What’s the solution?
Imagine that your local newspaper has always published your child’s school’s bus route. That bus route is very important to you and other parents of students. The number of schools in your local newspaper’s coverage area is more than a dozen. The number of bus routes that parents are looking for amounts to between three and four broadsheet pages. That’s a lot of newspaper real estate.
What happens when the amount of time it takes for Newsroom staff to gather the bus routes from the schools’ transportation departments, enter into computer, format, and paginate puts a strain on Newsroom resources?
The school bus routes get moved to the Advertising department’s Special Section. This opens the door for advertisers to support a supplement that is based on the community’s need to know this stuff.
Now, what if advertisers don’t want to support a School Bus Routes supplement? The supplement runs 12 pages. It strains the resources of the Special Sections department because someone still has to gather the bus routes from the schools’ transportation departments, etc.
If a good ratio of advertisements and editorial content in a supplement equals 40 to 50 percent, and a supplement only garners 10 percent advertising, does the newspaper cut its losses?
I’m using this supplement as an example of the importance of newspapers: the community needs this information. What source is going to offer this important information as conveniently as the local newspaper? Why do readers expect their local newspapers to offer products at little or no profit?
If this type of supplement moves to an online only version, will there be an outcry from the local newspaper readership? Is it this type of move that will show a large segment of the community the importance of their local paper for information they need to know?
Your thoughts and comments?