If you're among the loyal subscribers to the Denver Post's print edition, you probably noticed that there are fewer sections in today's paper than there used to be — even last week.
That's because the Monday and Tuesday print Posts have undergone some shrinkage, from three sections to two.
However, the print editions on those days will continue to exist — for now, anyway.
That's among the highlights of our recent conversation with Post editor Greg Moore, in which he responded to tips from assorted sources in regard to a buyout offer at the paper and other developments.
As we've reported, the Post is hoping that twenty employees will accept a buyout and is reserving the right to accept additional volunteers if enough are interested.
We've heard that one of the people who plans to take the buyout is a major name in arts coverage. Moore declined to confirm this tip, pointing out that folks have 45 days from the June 4 announcement to decide — and they can also change their minds at any time prior to the deadline.
In contrast, Moore spoke in detail about changes in the Monday and Tuesday print editions, which he outlined to staffers in a memo on view below in its entirety.
"The editorial page is going to be cut to a half page only on Monday, and we'll have a half-page for weather on that day," he allows. "We're restructuring the Monday and Tuesday papers to be what we call 'quick reads.'
"Those days are weak for circulation and revenue, so we're going to be slimming those papers down."
Other newspapers around the country have gone further, eliminating Monday and Tuesday print editions entirely. "We've seen it happen in Cleveland and Ann Arbor and Detroit and New Orleans," Moore says. "It's happened elsewhere in the industry. But that's not something being discussed here as far as I know."
Moore acknowledges that "we're all concerned" about the struggles the Post is experiencing in print on Mondays and Tuesdays. However, he goes on, "people have habits formed around the daily newspaper. You want to think long and hard before you break those habits." Still, "there's no question those papers have the weakest readership and ad revenue is not nearly as strong as other days of the week. So we're slimming those papers down, but I think we'll be putting out a really good product for busy people starting their week — enough to keep them going."
The result on July 6 is a two-section paper, with an eighteen-page "A" section and a fourteen page "B" section. The opinion offerings, which consists of one editorial (about a rail line in Longmont) and several letters to the editor, are stacked atop weather listings on a single page at the end of the "A" section. The "B" section, for its part, devotes eight pages to sports, three pages to comics, puzzles, horoscopes, TV listings and the "Ask Amy" column, and a couple more to business-related stuff under the heading "Tech Now."
In contrast, Tech Now filled its own section in the Monday, June 15, paper — but the overall length of the edition was actually smaller than today's. The June 15 "A" section was sixteen pages, the "B" section (all sports) was six and "Tech Now" ran for eight — thirty pages total, as opposed to 32 on July 6.
Not that there are champagne corks popping at the Post business office over this two-page boost. Today's paper is indeed a "quick read" — one that can be skimmed in just a couple of minutes. It's too soon to tell if that will be enough to keep subscribers happy over the long haul — or if Denver could join the list of cities with no print editions on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Here's the aforementioned Moore memo.
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When we announced the buyout, I mentioned there would be changes to the print product, our work processes and new assignments. I also said that there would be dialogue about some of these changes. We will start some public meetings to share ideas the week of July 13.
In the meantime, here is where we are so far.
Beginning July 6, you’ll notice the Monday and Tuesday newspapers are smaller. These days were our weakest in terms of circulation and revenue. Denver and The West will start on page A2 Monday through Saturday. It will remain a stand-alone section on Sunday. On Monday, we will go to a two-section newspaper. The A section will have DTW, Nation/World, and editorials and weather on one page. The B section will have Sports, comics, puzzles and a single page of TechKnow. We are eliminating the $mart pages.
Tuesday’s newspaper will be similarly slimmed down. It is already a two-section newspaper. We will keep Fitness to one page on the back of the Sports section. The editorial page and weather will remain where they are.
These “quick read” newspapers will require much tighter editing of stories and virtual elimination of jumps. We imagine fewer jumps off Page One and Sports with maximum lengths of about 20-25 inches on stories. The space savings are significant but these changes also allow us to realign people and processes. We are beginning to think about that.
As part of the public meetings starting later in July, think about what The Post should cover, how should we be organized, what beats would you start and which would you eliminate. We have had some of these conversations before. But we are looking at everything. We need to more sharply focus our news gathering resources, add staffing for digital and become even more efficient at producing the newspaper.
We do know we want to create an Audience team that will sit (figuratively) between Digital and the content departments. This will include an expanded social media team that will also dig into our analytics in real time. Our social media strategy has proven effective, and we’ve been growing that audience month after month. It’s time to add more people to that effort. We will search internally for a leader of that team and add three or four current staffers to it.
The Audience team will identify what’s working and why, and will help reporters, photographers and editors optimize our content for a variety of platforms. In addition, the team will identify topics and stories of interest to our readers and ensure that we are addressing them. Analytics won’t drive all of our content, but it’s time we harness the powerful data available to serve our community.
We are going to reassign reporters to a reconstituted Breaking News team. Breaking news is one of our strengths, but it’s clear that we need to focus more resources here, especially in generating content for our mobile audience. Most days, more than 50 percent of our readers come to us on a mobile device. In breaking news, that number is higher. We must develop content with the assumption that it will be mostly consumed on a mobile device. We’ve been talking about this for a while.
To be clear, it remains everyone’s responsibility to post breaking news from their beats. But this team will think mobile first. Metro will continue to oversee breaking news and work closely with the Audience team.
We plan to add a producer and developer to our mobile team. We have to think deeper about how we deliver and optimize content for our mobile audience. We will reassign for these duties and provide training. It’s clear that our audience is migrating to mobile, following trends around the globe. We want to improve our mobile experience now so we are in a better spot when a new CMS is ready in about six months.
Finally, we need the entire staff more in tune with producing digital content during the work shift. There is no reason that every reporter and photographer can’t contribute daily to our digital effort. The key is time management. And we need to settle on what is a reasonable level of production.
We have had a number of people ask for as many specifics as possible about what things might look like after the buyout. We are being as clear as we can be, while acknowledging we don’t have all the answers yet.
But some things are coming into focus. For instance, no one should assume he or she will be doing in the future what they do now. We are going to have to reassign some people after the buyout is completed. We likely will have a central desk for all editorial assistants. Their work process will be re-engineered, but it may mean that others may have to get their own mail, answer the main phone line sometimes, or we employ automation of some tasks, such as calendar listings. We will probably have a universal desk for assistant editors, where final editing for print and digital, headline writing and proofing will occur. Everyone will be in the weekend reporting rotation (except those whose beats already occur on the weekend).
I know the uncertainty is difficult. I also recognize the change we have accomplished is significant.
Our newsroom has embraced digital journalism. For more than six years, we have been learning, growing, evolving and refining our work.
In our Breaking News Pulitzer award, our digital effort was lauded in the citation. Craig Walker’s photography that won him his second Pulitzer was published only online. Our journalism has been recognized in numerous national digital contests and our video storytelling is among the best in the country. We get digital.
Now, we must apply our skills to the next-generation digital newsroom. It’s time for Denver Post 4.0!
That is the challenge ahead of us.