More Virginia victims of media downsizing:
Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We are repositioning the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 2018,” says Publisher Tom Silvestri today. “The continued disappearance of print advertising, now coupled with rising newsprint costs, will mean in 2018 we will have to do more with fewer resources.”
The newspaper, part of the BH Media Group, is raising its subscription rates. Explains Silvestri: “We are shifting from a predominantly advertising-supported business to an operation that relies more on subscription revenue.”
It’s also eliminating 21 positions and laying off nine employees, leaving 435 jobs. Silvestri did not say how many of the deleted positions are in the newsroom.
Roanoke Times. Meanwhile the Roanoke Times, also part of the BH Media Group, is eliminating seven jobs. Citing the “harsh reality” of rapid change in the industry, CEO Terry Kroeger cited advertising cutbacks by regional and national clients.
Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. The Free Lance-Star and its Print Innovators printing plant are laying off nine employees. Publisher Dale Lachniet cited problems with the decline of print advertising. On the bright side, he noted, the newspaper experienced strong growth in its digital products in the past year, an increase in web and mobile traffic to more than 41 million page views, and a more than 150% increase in digital-only subscriptions.
Digital advertising doesn’t yield as much revenue per reader as print did. Judging from the Free Lance Star’s digital media kit, those 41 million page views probably translate into less than $2 million a year in advertising revenue. As for that 150% increase in digital-only subscriptions, how does that compare to the loss of print subscriptions?
Slowly but surely, Virginia’s newspapers, like local newspapers across the country, are cannibalizing themselves. Eventually, all but a handful of national newspapers (New York Times, Wall Street Journal) and vanity projects subsidized by billionaires (Washington Post) will shrivel into oblivion. As local newspapers cut editorial staff, they will publish less content and lose eyeballs. As they boost subscription fees, they’ll lose eyeballs even faster.
The downward spiral will be marked by restructurings, bankruptcies, corporate takeovers, and more restructurings. For example, the Charleston Gazette-Mail in Charleston, W.Va., declared bankruptcy last month. Another media company likely will acquire it, but not before the 206-employee company lays off 50. Here in Virginia, BH Media is the dominant newspaper owner. The corporation is totally unsentimental about preserving its bottom line. It will not hesitate to continue cutting to maintain profitability.
When the local newspapers are gone, or so diminished that they are barely recognizable, who, then, will report the news? Google? Facebook? Russian fake-news propagandists? What a farce!There are currently no comments highlighted.