Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Detroit's newspapers continue downward trend

Jack Lessenberry has the statistics to prove what Detroit-area readers think of the Detroit News and Free Press:
In July 2006, the Detroit Free Press circulation was 315,519. Over the last year, as the paper became more and more Gannettized, that dropped to 305,137. That's a loss of more than 10,000 customers.

The Detroit News, which was pretty much destroyed by two decades of Gannett ownership before being partially liberated in 2005, lost subscribers too, but only a third as many. It now sells 192,722 copies a day. (Twenty years ago, before being combined in a competition-killing monopoly business agreement, each paper had more than 600,000 subscribers.)

For an even clearer indication of the marketing genius of Gannett, the all-dominant partner in the Detroit newspaper partnership, consider the circulation of the Sunday paper, which is purely a Gannett product, except for a News editorial page stuck in. It fell fastest of all, from 652,000 last year to 625,000 this year.
That's a pretty steep decline by most people's standards. I realize our economy is struggling and people's wages have fallen, but a paper is still a cheap form of entertainment compared to a movie, sporting event or dinner out. The fact that people aren't choosing to spend whatever discretionary money they have on a Gannett newspaper subscription says one thing - it isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

It's all in the message, Gannett, and the message your writers send (especially at the Detroit News) is that Michigan sucks, Michigan's workers suck, Michigan's governor and Democratic leaders suck, and all union households suck. And so do all African Americans, women, homosexuals, Arabs and children.

Do you see the problem, Gannett?
Apparently not. Lessenberry has the details:
How did the Gannett-controlled Detroit newspaper partnership respond to this staggering vote of no confidence? By getting rid of all their circulation customer service staff! In a memo they sent to the soon-to-be-axed employees, the corporate monster announced, "Our customer service operation will be consolidated into a Gannett regional call center in Tulsa, Oklahoma." That change, which becomes effective Oct. 14, "will mean the elimination of most customer service positions." However, wage slaves take heart. There will be "retention of a few part-time jobs."

Naturally, I am sure the flacks would tell you that service like this is has no relation to the fact that Gannett's stock price has fallen 42 percent over the last three years, or that rumors of a takeover of the company are sweeping Wall Street. I do have an idea to save Detroit's newspapers, however:

Heavily promote keeping pet guinea pigs. They constantly pee, and require massive amounts of newspapers to line the bottom of their cages. The newspapers are unwilling to do much about quality, but a few cheap summer interns could puff up the delights of pig ownership.
GUINEA PIG TRASHES NOLAN FINLEY EDITORIAL. Now that's a headline that just might tempt me to buy one of their papers!


CRC Director said...

This post doesn't belong in this thread, but I couldn't find an email address on your blog and I wanted to get this in your hands. Please utilize and delete at will. Thanks.
Its Democrats and Republicans going toe-to-toe, or should we say
"bumper-to-bumper" to benefit Community Inclusive Recreation.

This Saturday Night August 25th, The Bob Frahm Community Racing Challenge
returns to Springport Motor Speedway, presenting the 2007 Congressional

Michigan State Senator Mark Schauer, State Representative Mike Simpson,
State Representative Rick Jones and State Representative Mike Noffs will be
donning the drivers gear and taking to the high banks of Springport Motor
Speedway in a 10 lap sprint to prove who the fastest legislator is. The Bob
Frahm CRC Congressional Challenge race will kick off at 7:30pm at Springport
Motor Speedway.

Benefiting from this week's event is Community Inclusive Recreation, based
in Battle Creek, serving all of Calhoun, Barry and Jackson counties. The
Mission of CIR is to provide and promote inclusive social, recreational,
educational, and art activities for people of all abilities through
programming, leadership, and support of community inclusion. CIR is a
United Way Program Delivery Partner

Senator Mark Schauer commenting on the CIR; "They are a wonderful
organization with a vision and commitment to community inclusion. The CIR is
changing mindsets, attitudes, and accessibility barriers and I am proud to
support their efforts"

CIR is fortunate to have a wealth of partnering individuals and agencies
throughout Battle Creek, and beyond. As a result of the relationships that
have been cultivated throughout the 12 years that CIR has been in the
community, participants have had opportunities to experience wonderful
activities. And this weekend is no exception as the world of Automobile
Racing will be opened up to the great folks at Community Inclusive

Representative Rick Jones raised the bar of competitiveness when he said;
"with my 33 years in law enforcement, serving over 30 years with the Eaton
County Sheriff Department; I've chased bad guys from every corner of this
county and back... now they'll be chasing me." There is no doubt that this
fun event will be very racy as these 4 strong minded and strong willed
drivers jump behind the wheels of Bob Frahm's Community Racing Challenge
pure stocks for a 10 lap featured heat. Joining the Congressmen will be two
representatives of Community Inclusive Recreation, making it a full field of

The Community Racing Challenge charge is to provide meaningful support to
local non-profit organizations in the form of fund raising and team building
events which will not only foster new interest in local short track racing,
but enhance the relationship between drivers, owners, local businesses and
the citizens of our community.

The Community Racing Challenge will kick of this event on Thursday, August
23rd at Brown Stadium in Battle Creek where CIR will be hosting their 13th
annual Celebrity Softball Bash. This event pits the members of the Detroit
Red Wings Alumni and Detroit Tigers Alumni in a softball game versus Battle
Creek Community Leaders. Former Detroit Tiger pitcher Dave Rozema and
former Detroit Red Wing Shawn Burr are among the many big names taking part
in this big event.

The Community Racing Challenge will be on-site, along with one of our
Challenge Race Cars handing out free vouchers for the race on Saturday Night
and giving everyone an opportunity to sit in the racer and try on some race
gear. Senator Mark Schauer and Representatives from Mike Noffs office are
expected to be on-hand to meet and greet all the dedicated people involved
in this important community event.

For more information on this event, please visit, the online home of the Community Racing
Challenge. There you'll find videos and photos of past events, directions
to the race track, ticket information, event schedule, free on-line vouchers
and more. Or contact Patrick McNamara via email at or phone 734.536.0319

Willi_H2O said...

Interesting to see how things change over the years - thanks for the info

Willi_H2O over at

Blogs are better than newspapers

Kathy said...

Willi, you're welcome. I checked out your blog and recommend it to anyone into kayaking and nature. Cool pictures.

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