Thursday, March 9, 2017

Death Spiral?

The Hattiesburg American (Gannett) published this "letter to readers" yesterday:

The Hattiesburg American is making a strategic change that further builds upon our digital-first approach by strengthening the direction of its exceptional seven-days-a-week newsroom and combining the best of its seven-days-a-week print product into three great editions — Wednesday, Friday and Sunday — beginning April 5, 2017.

The shift, driven by our consumers and advertisers, enables us to invest in new ways of doing business and better position ourselves for the future. Our research shows subscribers are increasingly choosing to access the American online via our website, mobile and tablet devices, with the Hattiesburg American having 8X more digital readers than print readers. In 2016, we had 2.3 million unique visitors and 13.8 million page views. Audiences watched our videos 251,000 times — and another 774,000 times on Facebook. And the average time you spent on our stories went up 2 percent. (Damn. JJ is actually beating them on web traffic. )

This change is a strategic decision based on marketplace demand. Our three-day-a-week print products will be as robust as ever, if not more so, and contain all of the great content you have come to rely on and enjoy. We are taking every step to ensure our most popular features and columns find new homes in print. In addition, the majority of our businesses have already opted for a 3-day model in print, with the Sunday, Wednesday and Friday editions currently containing the majority of the American’s print advertising.

While the frequency of the print edition is changing, our commitment to covering the news, sports, events and stories that define our community remains a 24/7 priority for our staff and journalists. As you know, improving the Pine Belt quality of life is our passion, and 2016 was no exception. For example:

From the Jan. 21 tornado to Hattiesburg’s wastewater woes and annexation plans, we’re committed to covering the stories that matter to our audience.

But our mission isn’t just to be a news source — we want to help improve the community and shine a spotlight on what makes it a great place to call home.

And we’ve done that in a variety of ways. Running a book drive for a Hattiesburg elementary school. Lending a hand with tornado relief efforts. Honoring some of the area’s top young professionals and volunteers.

We live here. We work here. And we love it here.

As audience and advertiser preferences evolve — from print to digital, from desktop to mobile, from words to video — we’re evolving too.

We know how much you depend on the Hattiesburg American — and that’s important to us. Our dedication to providing trusted, local news and information to our community every day is unwavering. We will continue to report the news as it happens through our many online platforms, including, our mobile apps and e-newsletters. Plus, as a member of the Hattiesburg American family, we encourage you to explore all of the benefits we provide:

• Enjoy unlimited access to local news from any device at
• Easy-to-use apps with breaking news text alerts.
• Newsletters tailored to your interests.
• Coupons, grocery deals and retailer bargains to save you hundreds each week.
• Stay connected with the e-Edition of the Hattiesburg American on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
• Discover the best places to go and things to do around town.
• Insider Membership perks give you valuable discounts to local shops, movie theaters, retailers and more.

We’re committed to keeping you connected every day. If you have questions regarding digital access or need assistance, our dedicated service specialists are here to help. You can call us toll free at 1-800-844-2637, email us at or chat live by logging in at Our specialists will help you activate your account so you can take full advantage of our content available every day on your phone, desktop and tablet.

Once again, our staff, journalists, and I want to thank you for your continued support of local journalism.
 The publisher actually wrote this with a straight face.  Used all the right buzzwords too: build, community, robust, excited, and of course "best of".  


Anonymous said...

Retail stores (brick & mortar) are headed in the same direction. Most of my friends and family order on line. Big retail stores will be a thing of the past.

C-L Insider said...

This is happening across the newspaper industry. Times-Picayune went to this several years ago along with sister papers Mobile and Pascagoula. Gannett also announced yesterday that Alexandria and Opelousas, Louisiana papers will join Hattiesburg in the three-day per week plan. The Clarion-Ledger is just weeks away. All of the papers will be printed in Shreveport. The C-L press building on Pascagoula will be sold and the main office on Pearl is already vacant on the second floor and most of the first.The City with Soul will be without a daily newspaper. Print has become too expensive and circulation costs are up. Advertisers are increasingly going digital. Gannett sells data and no longer builds itself as a media company -- note the "Mississippi's Information Source" on the C-L flag. This trend has been developing for years and circulation has dropped to the point print is no longer viable.

Anonymous said...

It really makes sense to do this. By the time one reads it in the paper, it is old news. Make the paper more analysis, investigative reporting and features. three days a week is plenty.

The post office should adopt the same model. No need to deliver mail more than three days per week. 95% of the mail is junk mail. Of course, the Postal Union s will fight it.

Anonymous said...

Can show anyone in 5 minutes how to read all the C-L content they want and never pay a dime. Been a print subscriber for nearly 25 years. No need to subscribe for digital since it can be had for FREE. Stupid asses.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the CL and the HA and all those Gannett/USA papers is that their websites are actively hostile to visitors. Filled with ads, laggy, naggy, block readership after a certain number of articles, etc. I can't believe people actually go to them.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the sentiment against the CL's shortcomings, there are lots of families that will be affected....from current staff levels all the way down to the delivery person who gets up at 4:00am to make extra money.

Anonymous said...

Make the paper more analysis, investigative reporting and features ...

That won't happen.

Kingfish said...

One thing that is scary is the use of the per-clicks model to determine coverage. Things such as the county beat don't generate the same number of clicks. Some newspapers are even basing the comp on clicks generated.

Vernon Jordan published a very good column in the WSJ a few months ago that said a better economic model for media must be found or else we would lose it.

JJ is #1 said...

Whatever the measure I'll give them credit for sharing what their online traffic actually is. More than I can say for the JFP Pardners or Lange.

Anonymous said...

Regarding retail, thank goodness our state backed the construction of new malls in Ridgeland and Pearl. Just in time. Maybe they can help fund a new print newspaper also.

Drive THIS Shift! said...

"The shift, driven by our customers and advertisers....."

I think that's code for people stopped subscribing to and advertising in our liberal rag.

Anonymous said...

11:34, Neither the mall in Ridgeland or the Costco was supported by the state. Only the outlet stores in Pearl got state money. Got to take care of Feel's contributors.

Anonymous said...

I live in Austin with a metro population of 2 million plus the Statesman is also a Gannet paper. It is printed in San Antonio. Any event after 5:00pm is only available on line. It's not just a Jackson phenomenon its nationwide
. The CL website is much better than the Austin American Statesman as to navigating. Change is not kind to everyone

Anonymous said...

4:36 - Hello! Costco does not exist.

Anonymous said...

Just wait til all these neat steak houses and BBQ joints fail when people start ordering supper on line.

And the chicken tenders places recently announced for Madison and Ridgeland....just how many tennis-skirted young moms hauling little girls around in Tahoes do you think there are to support these places?

Anonymous said...

5:04 - The Austin American-Statesman is owned by Cox, not Gannett. But this is something most large newspaper ownership groups are doing.

My problem isn't so much the death of print newspapers but the death of "news" from these organizations. The Clarion-Ledger website is as much Buzzfeed Lite as it is anything else these days, complete with silly videos of people sampling food and "videos" that are really nothing but words on a screen with music laid underneath. Why? Because clicks are all that matters to the corporate overlords -- and if those clicks come from videos, then all the better.

It's not about news anymore. It's solely about page views and revenue.

Asking For A Friend said...

How much for those black, iron gates around the CL Building?

Anonymous said...

@11:39 It's not about news at the JFP either. It is and has always been about agenda.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we all know you can learn all you need to know from a bullet points or a summary. This is better than Cliff Notes...much faster! Why bother when someone else can tell you what to think?
" He who controls the flow of information controls power"

Anonymous said...

"But our mission isn’t just to be a news source — we want to help improve the community and shine a spotlight on what makes it a great place to call home." Precisely why newspapers like HA and CL are in a death spiral. When a newspaper gives up hard news reporting and good investigative work (our politicians are stealing us blind) and chooses instead to become a chamber of commerce, readers will vote with their subscriptions whether that was the right move. It's the mayor's job to "shine a spotlight" on the community; it's the newspaper's job to give us the news.

Anonymous said...

10:54 AM Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hello yourself 5:07!?! Where ya' been?

Anonymous said...

(Dale Carnegie at 10:39) "Can show anyone in 5 minutes how to read all the C-L content they want and never pay a dime. ... Stupid asses."

How to win friends and influence people.

Anonymous said...

4:36: Say what??

Does the State produce numbers on the return on these "investments?" No. Even the Soviets hailed their state-owned industrial returns, albeit the numbers were fraudulent.

Anonymous said...

Try posting a message in the comment section after a story on the CL web site. If the Democrats running the show down there decide that the comment disagrees with their story, your comment gets spiked. A real community asset, that paper is.

Del Frisco said...

Hilarious. Glad to see Gannett go down a rat hole. They refused home delivery to my address even though I live one block from a convenience store that carries the paper.

Tellico said...

The Baton Rouge Advocate has INCREASED its readership with New Orleans and Acadiana editions. If these additional publications did not make money, they would be discontinued. This proves a superior product will still sell.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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