Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Another Advance newspaper reduces its press run to three days a week, The Patriot News won a Pulitzer Prize for its Penn State scandal coverage

For those Advance Publications newspapers that were still printing their papers seven days a week, the writing certainly had to be on the wall following the cutback in schedules at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Alabama newspapers.

Today Advance announced that its daily newspaper in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania market, The Patriot News, would be reducing its schedule to three days, beginning in January.

The plan follows the scheme followed in Louisiana and Alabama: a new company is formed, in this case PA Media Group, that will handle the editorial print and digital duties. A second company, Advance Central Services Pennsylvania, will handle print and delivery duties.

“We are not making this move lightly,” said John A. Kirkpatrick who is the current publisher and will become the president of PA Media Group. “We understand how important the daily print paper is to a large number of people in our region. However, this is a major step to make sure we are leading, not trailing, in the world of innovation and solutions.”

Once again the excuse being given is digital. “The plan to reinvent ourselves into a digitally-focused organization with a quality print product three days a week is aimed at making sure that kind of work continues long into the future,” Kirkpatrick said in the announcement posted in the paper's website, Pennlive.com.

We need to marshal our resources and fully invest in being the best digitally-focused news operation possible. That way we’ll continue to grow,” editor Cate Barron said in the same online post.

Daily circulation at The Patriot News has fallen 33 percent in the past decade, according to the paper's own numbers, with circulation now at 118,000.

Like the announcements for the Louisiana and Alabama properties, while the excuse may be digital, there were no new announcements concerning digital initiatives. "The world is changing, and we're excited about the transformation that will allow us to cover that evolution even better," Kirkpatrick said in his online letter to readers.
How the change will actually improve coverage is anybody's guess. Earlier this year, Sara Ganim and the staff of newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for its coverage of the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

The Patriot News has at least five apps I could find under its name: three mobile apps and one, PennLive.com for iPad, which mimics the paper's website. These four apps can be found under the PennLive.com seller name.

Another tablet app, The Patriot-News, is a stand alone replica edition built by Technavia.

Advance seems to like to make these announcements in pairs – maybe it diffuses the outrage.

Advance will deploy the same three-day-a-week strategy in Syracuse, New York at The Post-Standard. Once again two companies will be created, Syracuse Media Group for editorial, and Advance Central Services Syracuse for production and distribution.

“We are living through a digital revolution … This is an irreversible trend. We either adjust, or we perish," Stephen Rogers, editor and publisher of The Post-Standard, told employees this morning.

The Syracuse paper also follows the same model as The Patriot News when in comes to the new digital platforms - in this case, their Central New York Sports Magazine replica edition is also outsourced to Technavia.