August 21, 2008

Lee president suggests end to holiday newspapers

A holiday from the Journal Times?

Hey, this wasn't our idea! Rather, it comes from the most unlikely of sources: Mary Junck, President, CEO and chairman of the board of Lee Enterprises, parent company of the Journal Times, 70 other dailies and 300 or so Pennysaver look-a-likes.

As everyone knows, newspapers are having a tough time, thanks to the desertion of both advertisers and readers, their twin raison d’ĂȘtre. Everyone in the industry is looking for ways to remake their newspapers and their business model. The Capital Times in Madison dropped its daily print edition entirely in April, leaving itself a web presence and two weekly tabloids. In September, the Superior Daily Telegram will go from a six-day daily to a twice-weekly. The Boston Globe has suggested that all its employees agree to a 10 percent pay cut. The Chicago Tribune and other papers in its chain have shed 500 pages weekly. Some newspapers have sold their buildings and presses, and outsourced printing; one California group cut its news staff from 48 to 10. Believe it or not, some newspapers have sent ad production, copy editing and even some reporting to India! And so it goes.

And now Mary Junck has come up with another idea. Here it is in her own words:
"There was a time when no one published on holidays. Maybe we should go back to that concept. We're considering the idea now."
Junck's suggestion came in an article published today in Editor and Publisher, the news industry's house organ (or at least it was years ago when it was the weekly source of happenings in the newsprint world and the best source of industry help wanted ads, yeah!; now it's on the web and published monthly, without so many help wanteds, donchaknow). The special report, Turn and Face the Change -- With Newspaper Industry in Crisis, 'Everything's on the Table,' quoted many industry leaders and their ideas for the future.

There was no elucidation from Junck; no information about how seriously the idea is being considered within Lee, no hint whether newsroom employees would be paid (HA!) for those unworked holidays. (They now get a day off, plus time-and-a-half for work done on the holiday.)

The article was full of more outside-the-box thinking; in many smaller communities, for example, you won't have to wait for actual holidays to break free from the daily newspaper habit -- how about newspaperless Mondays? And Tuesdays? Both are traditionally light on advertising which, as we all know by now, pays the freight. Monday publication has already been dropped by the Monmouth, IL, Daily Review Atlas and the Kewanee, IL, Star Courier.

If there are still any newspaper junkies out there, you can read E&P's entire article HERE. Oh, and don't worry about the advertising-insert-filled Thanksgiving Day newspaper; for most newspapers that's the most profitable edition of the year. Trust me; that will be the last to go.


  1. We will not miss the J-T or for that matter the DRC

  2. Actually, everybody would get off the day before the holiday. They'd have to work the day of the holiday to put a paper out for the next day.

  3. I have a suggestion for the J-T - publish the print newspaper once a week with daily news posted to the web site. The current print version gets smaller and smaller each day. I often wonder why on earth do I subscribe to this publication when I already subscribe to the Milwaukee J-S and Wall Street Journal.

    Racine once had the Shoreline Leader for local news and official governmental notices - the J-T should follow this model.

  4. (re Dustin): At least the paper carrier could sleep in.