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.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.
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.
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."GUINEA PIG TRASHES NOLAN FINLEY EDITORIAL. Now that's a headline that just might tempt me to buy one of their papers!
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.