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Archive for December 14th, 2005

How to make more money: Serve more (desirable) readers

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My hometown newspaper, for which I labored for nearly 20 years, used this promotional line: “Serving the people of Franklin County.” Over the years, that claim became less and less accurate.

Claims of broad, demographically diverse coverage by newspapers today remain just that — claims.

Franklin County consists of 26 towns with the county seat, Greenfield, smack in the middle of 400 rural square miles. Greenfield held a third of the countywide population of some 70,000. But we had “county” reporters who covered smaller towns with populations measured in the few thousands — towns covered by bureaus in east county, west county, south county and north county.

As the ’70s became the ’80s, rising staff and newsprint costs, the recession of the early ’80s and a change in profit expectations by new ownership led to, one by one, the cutting of these bureaus. Sure, the paper had stringers and still does. But the shrinking expectations of coverage by readers did not match the proud claim of “serving the readers of Franklin County.”

That’s the microcosm I worked in. But there’s a macrocosm, too: Newsroom folks at almost any newspaper will tell stories about the incredible shrinking coverage areas of their newspapers. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

December 14, 2005 at 2:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized