October 6, 2008

Put on a happy face

In their September 24th edition, the Lawrence County News announced that it’s going to “provide a stronger local newspaper and web site for its valued readers.”

Under a headline stating “Weeklies change course,” the paper said it would cut its Saturday editions beginning October 25. While the story talked about “consolidating its resources in an effort to reduce expenses,” they didn’t mention layoffs.

The move should certainly save expenses, but I’m not certain how it’ll provide a “stronger local newspaper.” And they weren’t particularly forthcoming about what other kinds of “consolidations” will take place. They did concede that the Belle Fourche Post & Bee will soon be renamed the Butte County Post, but I’m not certain of its implications on service.

That these are difficult times in the newspaper business, there is no doubt. A week or two before the Lawrence County Journal fessed up to its plans, Lee Enterprises – which owns the Journal and several other weeklies, as well as the daily Rapid City Journal – said they were laying off people at three of their papers in Montana, including the Billings Gazette.

In August, news giant Gannett Company announced that they’re cutting 1,000 jobs nationwide, despite cost-cutting measures they’ve instituted over the past year or so. The decline in ad revenue has apparently been just too much for them.

I suspect we’ve not heard the end of the local newspaper woes.

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