LEADER strength found in readers

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 23, 2009

Given the picture some in news media are trying to paint thesedays, one might be surprised to find today’s DAILY LEADER in thedriveway this morning.

With the recent attention given by CNN, Time magazine (alsoowned by CNN) and others in the electronic media business, it wouldseem that we are seeing the beginning of the end of a stalwartindustry – the Fourth Estate as it is known – an industry thathelped mold this nation in its earliest days and has helped guidethis country throughout its history.

Are we seeing the end of newspapers? No! Are there challenges?Yes!

Without question many big city metro newspapers are havingproblems, with several declaring bankruptcy this year. A true manbites dog type story if you will. One that is as unsettling forthose of us in the business as it is for our readers. Especiallyduring the transitional digital and Internet age.

But as in any story, there are angles to be considered. Theseheadline-grabbing bankruptcies are rooted in a depressed stockmarket and declining investment portfolios. The financial failuresof these companies had little to do with the operational vitalityof these publications but more with the loss of liquid cash assetsand cash flow.

As the economy worsened, advertising revenue streams declined.So did the ability to pay off debt. Nothing different than what hascrippled the financial, automotive and other industries.

In contrast to the metro daily newspaper story, communitynewspapers have a story that has been ignored by nationalmedia.

These smaller newspapers have a deep connection with theirreaders, a connection due to the local newspapers’ attention tohyper-local news. That connection is one that major metro papershave lost among their readers.

Community newspapers have the ability do what no one else cando: keep readers credibly informed of day-to-day things happeningin their communities.

No doubt about it, like every other business in our area TheDAILY LEADER is feeling the effects of the economic crisis.

One can see in our smaller editions that our advertising volumeis down. In response, we reduced the width of our pages to savepaper costs, we have eliminated or combined features, we aremonitoring other areas and are very watchful of gasoline prices.Just as one might do with the family budget, we are looking forways to raise new revenues and lower expenses.

To you, the cost to have your DAILY LEADER delivered to yourdoor is about 38 cents per day – the $10 per month subscriptionprice. The cost for us to produce and deliver the LEADER each dayis considerably more. We make up the difference with theadvertising we sell to local and national businesses.

The focus by the electronic media on problems with the metronewspapers brings up a natural question of confidence in thereadership in all newspapers large and small. A reasonable questionto which we offer a proud response.

We kicked off a promotional campaign last week “pointing out”the 6,445 households we reach each day. The advertising campaignfocuses on the strength of our print subscriber base in thiscommunity – a readership strength that is audited by the AuditBureau of Circulations annually. In addition, our Web site -dailyleader.com – has another 1,800 unique readers each day with anaverage of more than 170,000 page views per month.

Your copy of The DAILY LEADER came this morning, as it willcontinue to be published far into the future. It was written,edited, designed and printed by a very dedicated staff of 45individuals and then delivered by 25 independent contract carriers– all of whom are your friends and neighbors. I might add that allof this work is done here at home – not in another community. Weare a local industry providing 70 local jobs with an annualeconomic impact to the community of nearly $7 million.

Rest assured that we are not breathing our last breath norbuying our last roll of newsprint – despite what some would try tolead you to believe.

Like so many other community newspapers, The DAILY LEADER ishealthy and our readership is strong. We expect to be here both inprint and online for years to come, but with full understandingthat our existence is dependent solely on you — our readers andadvertisers.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.