Even as Rocky Mountain News scribes do what they can to rescue the publication (read about today's efforts in the blog "Looking at and Listening to Staff Attempts to Save the Rocky Mountain News"), the newspapers that hit thousands of driveways this morning demonstrate how large a task the print-journalism industry faces.
A primary mission of the Rocky and the Denver Post is emphasized by the word used to differentiate them from other news publications: "daily." But advertisers are less interested than ever before when it comes to buying space on at least two days of the week, Mondays and Tuesdays -- and as a result, some observers think that eliminating those editions could help save newspapering as a whole. (For some thoughts on this subject, read this September piece on The Evolving Newsroom website.) And the size of today's issues demonstrate how tempting such a strategy must be.
Let's go to the scales.
The Sunday paper remains the week's heftiest, particularly in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Note that the December 14 Post weighed in at 3 pounds, 15.1 ounces according to Westword's handy postal scale -- a device I used last month in a previous item, "Weighing the Leader in the Denver Newspaper War." Compare that to the Monday papers. Westword gets three copies of the Post and the Rocky each day, but this morning, for some reason, our carrier gave us two extra Posts. These eight copies tipped the scale at a combined 3 pounds, 11.2 ounches -- almost four ounces less than a single Sunday Post. And on Tuesday, the situation will almost certainly be similar.
Clearly, the Sunday paper is being used to underwrite the Monday and Tuesday editions. With costs escalating and ad sales plummeting, how long can that go on? Dunno -- but it wouldn't shock anyone in the business for newspaper publishers to decide at some point that they won't be able to survive if they continue to take the "daily" descriptor literally. -- Michael Roberts
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