Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holy crap

The Detroit Free Press is cutting home delivery from seven days a week to three (Thursday, Friday, and Sunday), and The Detroit News is cutting from six days to two (Thursday and Friday, the News already does not publish a Sunday edition.) In a painful example of spin, the Free Press's web site is calling the move a "bold new transformation" and emphasizing a shift in resources to the delivery of online content. The Free Press is also stating that no news staff will be cut.

[Free Press publisher Dave] Hunke said the Free Press that will be sold on non-home-delivery days will be a more compact product. Editors are designing a product of about 32 pages with an easy-to-pull-out sports section, provocative commentary and enriched lifestyle coverage. Only 40% of the space will be available for advertising, compared with 55%-60% in the current newspaper.

The Sunday and Thursday home-delivery products will be more substantial, but also redesigned to provide a mix of in-depth news and features with quick summaries of information and events.

Hunke said he expects some home-delivery customers will not want a paper just three days a week, but he hopes to retain most of them while attracting new readers to the redesigned compact paper.

This is particularly painful coming on the heels of layoffs at The Lansing State Journal (which is not a coincidence—both the Free Press and the State Journal are owned by Gannett, so the layoffs and restructuring are different facets of the same process. The excellently reported and organized Gannett Blog is an excellent resource on the troublesome newspaper behemoth.)

I had been planning to write a post arguing that Lansing was a city worth covering, but if Detroit isn't a city worth covering, I may have a hard time making that argument.

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