editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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Should we write off Saturday?

December 15th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Today many of us will wake up and grab the Saturday newspaper as we shuffle into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. But in many cases, the newspaper we’ll hold in our hands is a sad representation of what we would normally receive during the week. Actually, if it were not for the inclusion of some sections from the Sunday newspaper, the Saturday edition could be slid under the door, given how thin it has become.

To me, the continued downsizing of the Saturday newspaper leaves me wondering if — given the increased emphasis on online reporting and continued falling print circulation — we really need a Saturday paper?

Now before you start shifting in your seat, working up the energy to yell at your computer screen, let me just clarify what I mean. I’m not saying that all newspapers need to or should even consider this type of move. But for an industry which in many cases has already had its obit written, it might be time to examine this possibility.

I think the financial savings could be significant; just consider the costs of newsprint, ink, printing and delivery. At many papers, these savings alone could reach into the millions.

Newsrooms would likely be able to double their Sunday staffing. While typically Sunday find a skeleton staff working, now there would be enough employees to bolster the Monday edition, enhance the website and continue development of quality enterprise.

I’m sure there are downsides to this type of approach — some home delivery recipients might seek to cancel their subscription believing that they were receiving less then what they expected. Newspapers would need to consider what added value could be brought to the Sunday newspaper to allay these fears. I don’t think most newspapers see strong Saturday single copy sales, so I have to wonder if there would be a sizeable hit there.

Granted, I’m probably oversimplifying what would be a complex issue, but I think it needs to be said and at many newspapers, it needs to be seriously considered. We can’t continue stripping resources from our newsrooms, freezing salaries and reducing benefits without it having an impact on our ability to focus on the issues and areas necessary to keep our businesses afloat.

Tags: Industry · Innovation · Local Newspapers · Online

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Pat Thornton // Dec 15, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    I would strongly consider making a joint weekend addition. If any breaking news happens, it can be placed on the Web site as the news breaks, which is how newspapers should operate anyway.

    Any feature stories or stories “saved” for the weekend can go in the joint addition. People love the Sunday edition, because Sunday is the day to relax and lounge around the house. Saturday is a terrible day to read the newspaper.

    I’m not saying I am right on this, but I’d consider it, especially if my paper was doing poorly. Printing and circulation are two big reasons many papers are having financial troubles.

    My girlfriend also brought up another point, what about the Monday edition? What honestly happens major on Sundays anyway?

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