Newspapers--(Don't) Stop the Presses!
Newspaper publishers/printers are uncovering new revenue sources by competing for commercial jobs to fill idle press time.
BY ERIK CAGLE
The old joke is that while a lawyer can hear a $5 bill falling on a pile of snow, a newspaper publisher can catch it before it hits the ground.
Why the harsh treatment? It is a much-deserved depiction, for the life of a newspaper is a constant, daily struggle to make ends meet. For every paper brimming with a 40/60 advertising-to-editorial ratio or better, there are dozens of smaller dailies and weeklies that are fighting for their existence, eking out profits or absorbing losses.
Ah, but don't cry for the newspaper. Chaos may reign supreme on a daily basis (and not only in the newsroom), but it isn't called the daily miracle for nothing.
Many papers, regardless of financial standing, have found a simple way to increase the bottom line by printing outside commercial work. The web presses are there and so are the press crews. The prevailing thinking is that they might as well put both to work.
There are papers, such as the Connecticut-based Willimantic Chronicle, which perform above the level of their circulation. Boasting a circulation of 11,000, The Chronicle Printing Co.'s flagship publication is the "local" paper for the University of Connecticut. When the Huskies won the NCAA basketball title earlier this year, the Chronicle printed a four-page wraparound, with all the copy written by one staffer.
According to Kevin Crosbie, Chronicle publisher, commercial printing jobs provide his newspaper with supplementary profits.
"The primary business is the paper and the advertising revenue it generates, but it would be a waste not to make use of the resource," Crosbie notes. "We're able to generate an additional 10 percent revenue from our commercial jobs."