McClatchy’s painless new weekend experiment, losing a female journalism pioneer and an homage to former slaves

June 5, 2019
Category: Newsletters

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Weekend plans

McClatchy announces an experiment to eliminate one day of print for two papers — but with an enhanced online experience and no job losses.

These are rickety times for newspapers. A major issue: printing a paper costs lots of money. Delivering the paper costs lots of money.

So the McClatchy chain, which has 30 newsrooms, is on a learning journey to find out how to get readers to go from print to digital.

In April, the McClatchy-owned Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) Sun News went from publishing a print product seven days a week to six. It cut the print edition and produced only digital stories on Saturdays. Because digital activation increased 8% in one month, revenue was not impacted and virtually no one cancelled their subscription, McClatchy is adding two more papers to what it calls “Digital Saturdays.” The Durham (North Carolina) Herald Sun and the Bellingham (Washington) Herald will no longer print on Saturdays, starting July 6.

This initiative is headed up by Sara Glines, McClatchy’s Carolinas & East regions president and publisher. And she wants to be clear with readers of those papers.

“You’re going to get all the same content that you got before,” Glines said. “You’re just going to get it in a different way.”

In fact, Glines said readers will get more. Extra comics and puzzles will appear in the Friday and Sunday print editions. And the Saturday e-edition will include even more international, national, sports and entertainment coverage than the Saturday print edition normally carried.

“We’re trying to really impress upon people that this is not a loss of local content,” Glines said. “There is no change in our reporting staff — when they’re reporting, what they’re covering, how many days a week they work. There is no change in that. This is not a change in our content strategy. What this is is a way to start looking at our digital product and promoting that more to our readership.”

Let’s get to the bigger issue here. This feels like the first few steps in moving every paper in the McClatchy chain to a fewer-than-seven-days-a-week print product.

“It’s not quite fair to say that because we don’t have a plan right now that says, ‘and we’re going to roll it out to every property,’” Gline said.

In the meantime, Glines said McClatchy will monitor this experiment.

“We’re going to try to do it in the least disruptive way to those who continue to love print and we’re going to try to hold on to print and make that the best product we can for as long as we can,” Glines said. “But we need to continue to make changes and this is one them.”

Casting the first … milkshake?

A Tampa Bay Times reporter and a Florida congressman get into a tiff over a retweet, but it’s the “enemy of the people” refrain that’s most troubling.


U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) in 2019.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

On Sunday, Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman sent a tweet that linked to an Orlando Weekly blog post about Florida congressman Matt Gaetz getting hit by a drink thrown by a protester. That didn’t sit well with Gaetz, who tweeted:

“.@tampabaytimes reporter shares blog glorifying assault @ town hall event attended by 250+ citizens. Yet another example of the MSM truly becoming an#EnemyOfThePeople. Will the great ‘paper of record’ or other reporters call this out? I’m not holding my breath. Or my tongue.”

Later, after Pittman responded with a tweet that had a photo of him saluting a gravestone on Memorial Day, Gaetz tweeted:

“Craig, you left out the part where u spread blogs that provide a justification for political violence. That’s why you are the #EnemyOfThePeople. I’m sure you’re a lovely husband/father but that doesn’t absolve your unrelated corrosive acts.”

Full disclosure: The Tampa Bay Times is owned by Poynter, and I used to work with Pittman at the Times. Full admission: I find it very disturbing that an elected official who has sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution refers to the media as an “enemy of the people.”

Gaetz’s spokesperson did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Surrounded by questions

Journalists are still asking Trump about Jamal Khashoggi’s death, but the president doesn’t want to discuss it.

Queen Elizabeth II speaks with President Donald Trump in Portsmouth, England on June 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Before his trip to the UK, President Donald Trump was asked on the White House lawn Monday about the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and whether or not he was willing to hold Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible. Trump’s reaction seemed to be that this was old news — why ask about it now?

“When did this come up again?” Trump said. “What are you back — are you back — what, four months ago?”

When told that his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner was asked about it during an interview with Axios the night before, Trump simply said, “No.”

Newsletters deliver

Crafting a good newsletter is hard work — and I’m not just saying that because you’re reading mine.

My latest obsession: newsletters. And not just because I write one. Each day my inbox is filled with newsletters, bringing me everything from the media news to political commentary to sports updates. Plus newspaper newsletters — lots and lots of newspaper newsletters. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have several outstanding newsletters and The Washington Post has, at last count, more than 70.

One of my favorite newsletters is the Try This! newsletter about digital tools from my Poynter colleague Ren LaForme. His latest is about … newsletters, in particular the outstanding newsletter produced by The Buffalo News.

‘Where was the Lord?’

The Montgomery Advertiser resurfaced slavery survivor stories from the 1930s in response to a state holiday honoring Jefferson Davis.


A statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis stands on the grounds of the Alabama Capitol in Montgomery. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

Earlier this week, Alabama celebrated a state holiday: Jefferson Davis Day. State offices were closed as the state honored the president of the Confederate. As New York Magazine put in a headline: “Celebrate Racism!”

AL.com wrote that the Davis holiday is “one of three in Alabama that celebrates” the Confederacy. The other two are Robert E. Lee’s birthday (which is recognized on the same day as Martin Luther King Day) and Confederate Memorial Day.

Instead of lashing out with incredulous columns about the absurdity of celebrating Davis, the Montgomery Advertiser published a more impactful piece. From 1936 to 1938, the Works Progress Administration sent workers through the South to interview survivors of slavery. The Advertiser’s Brian Lyman combed through more than 2,000 interviews and compiled nine in a powerful piece called “Where was the Lord?”

In his introduction, Lyman calls Davis “a racist,” and writes, “The testimonies preserve the voices of those who experienced a hell that Davis and other white southerners were willing to destroy the country to protect.”

Passings: Le Anne Schreiber

A journalism pioneer, she was the first female sports editor at a major American daily newspaper.


Le Anne Schreiber in 1978. (Photo: AP)

Former New York Times sports editor Le Anne Schreiber, the first woman to run a major American daily newspaper sports section, died last Friday from lung cancer. She was 73.

Schreiber agreed to take over the Times sports section in 1978, but said she only do it for two years. She held true to her word and moved over to become deputy editor of the Times Book Review in 1980.

According to an obit by the Times’ Richard Sandomir, Schreiber wrote about her sports tenure in her memoir: “I was, depending on one’s view, the bitch, the saint, the amazon, the token, the recipient of awards and death threats and, ultimately, the ingrate, for insisting upon my pre-agreed release after two excruciating years.”

From 2007 to 2009, Schreiber served as the ombudswoman for ESPN. Former ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons tweeted:

“ESPN hired Le Anne Schreiber as ombudsman when they should’ve just handed her the website. She would have crushed it.”

Advice and training

For graduating TV journalists, consider wisdom that includes being kind, listening to your elders and carrying the tripod once in a while.

We have a piece of advice for TV journalists. Actually, we have 22 pieces of advice. Les Rose, a 38-year veteran of broadcast journalism and a member of the S.I. Newhouse faculty at Syracuse University, has an informative and entertaining list of what you really should know if you’re in the TV news business. (Examples: There is nothing “real” in reality TV, and whoever is driving the live truck picks the radio station.)

For lessons on how to tell really good stories, Rose will host a Poynter webinar at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Hot type

A list of great journalism and intriguing media.

Hurricane Michael in the Gulf of Mexico in 2018. (NOAA via AP)

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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This article has been updated to correct the name of the magazine that published the Jefferson Davis article. It was New York Magazine, not the New Yorker. We regret the error.