Local Newspaper a Costly Proposition

Local Newspaper a Costly Proposition

 

The Alameda Sun recently had an interesting go-round with a reader. This member of the community called me and asked that I write up a story about a series of events, post my story online, run it in the newspaper and post the events in the calendar — all for free. I fulfilled the first three requests, but went on vacation without posting the events online.

While I was gone the reader called to complain that the free story I wrote appeared on the back page. My partner, Eric Kos, took offense at the reader’s attitude. It’s not every day that the Sun gets complaints about free stuff in the paper. After complaining, the reader wrote me an email which I read while enjoying my 40th wedding anniversary with my wife, Pauline, in Yosemite. In the email the reader thanked me for what I had done, then proceeded to castigate Eric for his attitude. 

I was especially disturbed to learn that after complaining, the reader asked Eric if the events would appear in the calendar, for free, of course. All I can say is that it was a good thing I was enjoying myself at the Ahawhnee Hotel in Yosemite (see page 2).

Nearly every time readers call and expect the Sun to do something for free, we wonder if they appreciate just how much it costs to produce and deliver the newspaper each week.

If we combine weekly printing and delivery costs with payroll, rent and incidentals like office supplies, keeping the lights on and having our trash picked up, the weekly tab amounts to $6,825 or $354,900 a year. That means that Eric and I have to make sure that $1,365 comes through our doors each and every working day. That’s just to pay the bills without making a penny in profit. Our fellow small business owners in town can certainly identify with this problem. No business can survive while giving the store away.

I would like to ask if our aforementioned reader would even think of going into a meat market and asking for a free steak. Probably not. But it’s OK to call the Sun and ask for free space. Now how about asking for and getting that free steak, but returning to the butcher to complain that the free steak was too tough? And then not only asking for another free steak, but asking the butcher to throw in some free cold cuts as well. This would be laughable, if it weren’t a commonplace occurence in our office. 

The locally run Alameda Sun needs the community’s support to survive. Eric and I hope that if our ad rep Cindy Pelletier comes calling at your business, you will consider supporting us with your advertising dollars. We do like to point out that our circulation is some 7,000 papers larger than our closest competition, the Alameda Journal, which is run by a company in New York City. We recently increased our circulation to meet the demand placed by the new houses you see sprouting up on the West End at Alameda Landing and along Buena Vista Avenue. 

The Sun will be 15 years old in September. We sincerely thank our advertisers and subscribers  for their support. If you are not yet an advertiser or subscriber, please consider joining our family. 

 

Dennis Evanosky publishes the Alameda Sun.  

 

Comments

embassea
embassea's picture

Having earned a journalism degree in Southern California, my first job after graduation was redesigning and overhauling a local newspaper (Aliso Viejo News & Review) in 1993. While I wasn't directly responsible for P&Ls (publisher's job, you know!), I was very cost conscious, knowing that our main competition came from the Irvine World News and OC Register and costs were always a factor in keeping our publication around.

Our bread and butter, back in those days, was classifieds, but we also ran local interest stories in concert with our weekly "Calendar."

I had more than my fair share of "locals" who could be quite demanding, but the minute they were asked if they'd like to give their "products" away for free, they usually clammed up.

I can appreciate the position you're in, and am looking forward to being a regular reader when we make it back to the West Coast, relocating to one of the local marinas.

As for me, I made the transition out of publishing into the online world ( I was one of those Dot Com guys who survived), and now do Search Engine Optimization and Marketing for large eTailers. If any of them asked me to do "free" work, I'd explain to them that business simply doesn't work that way.

Keep up the good fight, and see you in a few months.

Best,
S/V Meridian
Hilton Head Island, SC