Advance cuts daily publication of its three Alabama papers

al.com
Like their sibling in New Orleans, the three Advance Publications newspapers in Alabama — in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville — will cut back printing to three days a week. A piece by “al.com staff” breaks the news:

A new digitally focused media company — the Alabama Media Group, which will include The Birmingham News, the Press-Register of Mobile, The Huntsville Times and al.com — will launch this fall to serve readers and advertisers across the state, according to Cindy Martin, who will become president of the new organization.

The Alabama Media Group will “dramatically expand its news-gathering efforts around the clock, seven days a week, while offering enhanced printed newspapers on a schedule of three days a week,” the report says. Eight paragraphs down, there’s a little more news:

The change in organizational structures across all departments will lead to a reduction in the overall size of the workforce. Details are still being worked out, Martin said.

Average circulation at the three papers between March 2011 and March 2012 has followed national trends, increasing or basically holding steady on Sundays and decreasing Monday through Friday. According to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, The Birmingham News’ average Sunday circulation increased from 153,023 to 173,187, a 13 percent increase mostly attributable to the inclusion of “YES! Your Essential Shopper,” a home-delivered collection of flyers. Its average daily circulation declined 7.5 percent, from 112,209 to 103,729. The Press-Register’s Sunday circulation was basically flat, going from 103,300 to 103,373 and its daily circ dropped from 87,518 to 82,088; both figures rolled in distribution of The (Pascagoula) Mississippi Press. Average Sunday circulation rose 1 percent at The Huntsville Times, to 68,092 from 67,286, and daily fell 5.5 percent, from 47,366 to 44,725.

Related: Sen. Landrieu on Times-Picayune: ‘To think of not having a daily print edition saddens me.’

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  • Anonymous

    Two or three days a week? When I first started out as a journalist in 1969, I think the feisty Miami Beach Sun was published twice a week. Unfortunately, our publisher was sentenced to jail, having crossed the thin line between business success and federal criminal statutes. Anyway, at the long end of a career as a journalist and teacher, I am having fun running a little web paper The Tallahassee News. We nominated columnist Jack Strickland of Gainesville, a former AP writer,  for the Pulitzer, and if you ask me, his work on prisons and cancer patients was at that level. We may never make a profit, but we can still shovel a little coal. 

  • Anonymous

    I can’t afford to publish a physical newspaper, but as regular newspapers cut back, I think online papers such as mine will be able to provide material that will become more attractive to readers. As a part-time online newspaper publisher, my income is minus but I’m having a good time. I nominated my columnist Jack Strickland of Gainesville, Fla., for the Pulitzer for his columns on Florida prisons and on cancer patients. He can write. 

    Oddly enough, I think when I started out as a journalist many years ago on The Miami Beach Sun in 1969, we were published only two or three times a week. My memory may be faulty.  Mike Abrams, thetallahasseenews.com. 

  • Anonymous

    I can’t afford to publish a physical newspaper, but as regular newspapers cut back, I think online papers such as mine will be able to provide material that will become more attractive to readers. As a part-time online newspaper publisher, my income is minus but I’m having a good time. I nominated my columnist Jack Strickland of Gainesville, Fla., for the Pulitzer for his columns on Florida prisons and on cancer patients. He can write. 

    Oddly enough, I think when I started out as a journalist many years ago on The Miami Beach Sun in 1969, we were published only two or three times a week. My memory may be faulty.  Mike Abrams, thetallahasseenews.com. 

  • Anonymous

    I have no doubt there are some very committed people in newsrooms. But that’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is whether people are willing to pay for news and whether advertisers are willing to support those operations. Nothing else matters, because without the cash, there’s no operation. 

  • http://www.WhoNeedsNewspapers.org Paul Steinle

    Perhaps. But perhaps not. 

    In 2010-11, we visited 50 newspapers and reported on them on a website: http://www.WhoNeedsNewspapers.org. The newspaper people we met and the enterprise we documented tell a different story. It’s a story of commitment to excellence and a quest to perpetuate reliable reporting as the marketplace shifts. The future you predict also assumes that the public won’t be able to differentiate between valid reporting and pap. Give the public more credit. This story is still being written by people who care deeply about the role and value of journalism in society. And millions of people are still buying newspapers.  Things change and not always for the worst when committed people realize what is at stake and act.  

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, it’s absolutely the death of newspapers, and not just as a product but as an institution and as a mindset.
    The money behind print all these years allowed for the type of newsgathering to which we’ve all become accustomed. Without it, real journalism worth a shit will die.What digital has done is level the playing field for anyone who wants to have a voice. It wasn’t too long ago, you had just a few places to get news — radio, tv or a newspaper. That was basically it.But now for a lot of people, especially young people, Facebook really is their news source (as sad as that is), because it’s about stuff they care about and is relevant (i.e. whatever their friend is currently doing.)Take Patch, for an example of how digital won’t pay for journalism. On some of the sites (not all), there’s actually some decent local journalism happening. But 850 sites and a few hundred million dollars later, what’s the result? There’s not enough cash being generated to fund the sites. Each site brings in about $50,000 yearly in ads, but loses about $150,000. And on a site-by-site basis, it’s run about as lean as can possibly be.If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the movie “Idiocracy.” It’s about how the world is getting dumber. When I first saw it a few years ago, I thought, “that’s ridiculous. That’ll never happen.” But I see it happening more and more every day. 

  • http://www.WhoNeedsNewspapers.org Paul Steinle

    Change is endemic to the newspaper industry; the three-day-a-week newspaper is another interesting formula. 

    Advance (Newhouse) came up with a permutation of the three-day-week formula in Ann Arbor in 2009 when it shut down its printed edition and restarted with a “new” website and a three-day-a-week publication. It’s followed suit in Michigan in 2012 with Jackson, Mich., and several other small Advance newspaper towns, adapting three-day-a-week publication schedules this winter. 

    Of course in the recent instances, all these Advance newspapers — now multimedia news companies — are serving their communities with 24/7 commercial news Web sites, under the same banner as the newspaper, and with digital feeds for smart phones, etc. 

    Isn’t it interesting that even a vanguard company like Advance is not walking away from printed papers completely. Perhaps there is an abiding market for the printed page after all in the new mix of alternatives: somebody — readers and advertisers — apparently wants these relics. 

    Aggressive newspapers are not waiting to die; they are exploring business configurations to finance their news operations as the advertising and digital revolution changes around them.

    So is the headline: Here’s more evidence of the death of newspapers? Or is it: Newspapers are adapting to change and becoming dynamic multimedia news companies in order to fulfill their mission…?             

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.rugg1 Tom Rugg

    No point in pretending that newspapers are a “public service”.  They are a business and (not unlike what’s happening to the postal service) the ad revenues simply can’t compete with the tremendous growth in on-line.  It’s the way it is and the newspaper business will continue to shift to on-line and away from paper.

  • Anonymous

    Executives didn’t lead journalism into this abyss. Changes in habits did. The best and brightest in media can’t fight it. People will pay for entertainment, but they’re not wanting to pay for news anymore, for the most part. To blame it on “executives” is lazy.

  • Anonymous

    Executives didn’t lead journalism into this abyss. Changes in habits did. The best and brightest in media can’t fight it. People will pay for entertainment, but they’re not wanting to pay for news anymore, for the most part. To blame it on “executives” is lazy.

  • Anonymous

    How do you “dramatically expand” newsgathering while reducing the workforce?

  • Anonymous

    How do you “dramatically expand” newsgathering while reducing the workforce?

  • Anonymous

    I await the day when executives downsize themselves for leading journalism into this abyss.