Cincinnati A letter from the Publisher

From A letter from the Publisher

The Cincinnati Enquirer has been around for 168 years – making it one of the oldest local institutions in Greater Cincinnati – and has survived 19 economic downturns, including the Great Depression. As the local economy recovers, we’ll be around to cover this story too.

Naysayers have predicted our demise many times over those years, but today The Enquirer reaches 64 percent of local adults every week, or 803,800. Enquirer Media does not have an audience problem. Nearly two-thirds of the market will read our newspaper this week. It’s the economy.

This is a nice piece of denial.  Hopefully, this is just their public face, that internally they truly realize the predicament they’re in.  Because blaming the economy and not recognizing the change in the way that the world gets its news is a bit delusional. 

The Enquirer says it reaches 803,800 people a week. But how many of them actually subscribe to the paper?  When was the last time you bought a paper?  If I had a bird or some kind of animal, I might by the paper, but otherwise I’d just read it online because by the time a newspaper is printed, it’s literally yesterday’s news. 

Obviously, there are no easy fixes as newspapers across the country are all dealing with the drop in paid subscribers and ad supported media.  It’s clear that readers of print media are decreasing and the advertising from the internet is not making up the difference.

Layoffs help the bottom line in the short term but doesn’t address the issues facing the paper and may cripple the paper as it tries to find relevance in the internet age.

So, what’s the Enquirer going to be?  Is it going to be a cobbled together collection of newswire stories?  The Cincinnati Enquirer should really be the preeminent source for Cincinnati news.  They should cover local issues exhaustively.  But, often when I want to find out what’s really going on in Cincinnati I often turn to various blogs for news and discussion.  For example, I’m interested in the re-development of Cincinnati and a site like Building Cincinnati has much more extensive information on the goings on in the city than the Enquirer.

Is it too late for the Enquirer?  Maybe. But, I still think there is an important place for traditional media.  The Enquirer still has access that bloggers can only dream about.  With professional reporters, writers, and editors the Enquirer can cover stories full time that most bloggers can not.  But who’s going to pay for the quality of professional reporting?  If ads aren’t enough to sustain the business what are the newspapers going to do?

If the Enquirer is going to make it, I believe that they need to focus on the quality of local reporting. Obsessively cover the important issues and find the unique stories in the city.  Unique and quality content is the key to good readership.  At least then the Enquirer might have a chance.

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