One Newspaper’s Revenue Strategy: Hard-Core Focus on Local, Print

Newspapers can still win with a hardcore community focus in their journalism and advertising, and a renewed emphasis on print. Or at least, that’s s the message delivered by Ed Moss, the newly installed publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune, which was sold a few months ago at a fire-sale price to Platinum Equity, a buyer of troubled properties.

Moss, who was interviewed on KFMB-TV‘s Sunday morning talk show, said the paper is focusing on “micro-zoning,” with 19 different zones within its circulation area. A plumber could target 13,000 readers in Scripps Ranch, he noted. It isn’t necessary for him to spring $800 or more to reach beyond his territory. The new orientation is consistent with the new sales staff brought in. In fact, the new sales leader is a veteran of PennySaver.

Moss also said that the paper, whose daily circulation has just fallen below 300,000, still has 175 journalists on board, and they will similarly focus on providing hard-core community news. It seems unlikely, however, that the 19 advertising zones will be replicated with the paper’s content zones, which are currently split in five.

What Moss didn’t have on-air time to address was the strategy for SignOnSanDiego. The paper, however, apparently doesn’t have expectations that it will be a major contributor to the bottom line. Mostly, SignOn will be supported to complement print content and to stave off online competitors such as local TV stations and The San Diego News Network, whose president is former SignOn leader Chris Jennewein.

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