Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ten Ways to Keep a Newspaper Strong

Deborah Howell, ombudsman of The Washington Post writes:

Readers sometimes think they own The Post. So do the journalists who produce the news. But it's the Graham family and other stockholders who own The Washington Post Co.; they have done very well by it. The new publisher, Katharine Weymouth, and The Post's top business executives and editors make the key decisions on The Post's financial and journalistic future.

The newspaper recession, compounded by the nation's financial crisis, has put the newspaper part of the company between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The Post has had three buyouts in five years, yet business demands mean more will be trimmed.

Deciding what to trim is tricky. If subscribers don't feel loyalty or that sense of ownership in the paper, they cancel their subscriptions, especially when they can get it free on the Internet. The Post must have committed, paying print readers in order to do well in the short term -- and the long term is only dimly seen. Those readers make up the subscriber base that brings advertisers to the paper; advertising provides most of The Post's revenue.

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