Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Press

Just how bad IS it at Gannett?


The Gannett Corporation's newspaper operations are notorious pinchpennys. In pursuit of that ever-important quarterly profit figure, the papers have gained the reputation of laying off experienced (but expensive) staff in favor of tyros, reducing the news hole[1] to nothing, and emphasizing flabby, fluffy stories (cheap) over hard news (expensive). In the process they've created a large body of embittered alumni.

But while business is business, you really start wondering how financially healthy a company is when one of its papers drops sponsorship of a high-profile public service event to save a relatively small amount of cash, in this instance 5 thousand dollars.

The [Nashville] Tennessean has made the decision to cease our sponsorship of the Middle Tennessee Regional Spelling Bee beginning with the 2007-08 school year... After much deliberation and evaluation of our core mission, we determined that our resources need to be directed to programs that link more closely with our core mission.[2] -- Tennessean e-mail, quoted by Kay Brooks
How much was it costing them? The Tennessean didn't say, but Bill Hobbs, another Tennessee blogger, did some research, and came up a basic sponsorship cost of $900. He found the cost in a USA Today article which includes this quote:
In December, The Providence Journal[3] dropped its bee sponsorship, on which it spent more than $5,000 a year, after more than 20 years.
Hobbs:
ABC televised last year's National Spelling Bee - and drew 14 million viewers... The Spelling Bee is pop culture now.

And [if] it costs only $900 to be sponsor of the regional bee, the rest of that $5,000 that the Rhode Island paper spent obviously was for organizational and promotional costs, which I'd think a savvy media sponsor could recoup through creative programming and smart marketing tie-ins.

Fortunately for the spellers of middle Tennessee, the alternative weekly Nashville Scene (motto: "All the news that gives you fits.") has stepped up and agreed to assume the sponsorship.

As for Gannett, leave 'em to Kay Brooks:
So what's their core mission again? Oh, that's right. Make money.


Elsewhere:
Via: IP
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Notes:
[1] That's the space that's left over after they've printed all the advertising.
[2] ‹snark›Don't-cha just love that redundant last sentence?‹/snark›
[3] not a Gannett paper

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