Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Digital First Media announces it will reduce print schedule of its paper, The Oneida Daily Dispatch; readers now dependent on website and outsourced digital editions

The struggling newspaper company, Digital First Media, today announced that it will reduce the print schedule for its paper, The Oneida Daily Dispatch, beginning on February 3.

The newspaper will now only print three days a week, though the move does create a new Sunday edition. The other two printed papers will appear on Tuesday and Thursday.

As is usual in these kinds of situation, the publisher put a happy face on the move, and talked about digital initiatives.

"Changes in the marketplace have allowed us to accelerate our transition to a more comprehensive, multi-platform offering. The Oneida Daily Dispatch is expanding our digital platforms including our new mobile and tablet applications as well as expanded website content," said Jan Dewey, Digital First Media’s New York Publisher.

The problem with talking about digital in regards to Digital First Media is that the company has actually shown little interest in the new digital platforms, launching replica e-editions and weak tablet and mobile apps – outsourcing even those modest efforts to NewspaperDirect and Spreed. The result is that some readers will now be asked to read digital replicas of print editions that no longer exist. The best new digital product released by a Digital First Media property has no doubt been the excellent, self-produced tablet magazine, Denver Post Colorado Ski Guide.

The Journal Register Company, of which the Oneida paper is part, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September of last year. The company is owned by Alden Global Capital.

At the time of the bankruptcy announcement, John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, said on his company blog that the company expected "the auction and sale process to take about 90 days." To date that was the last entry written on the blog. The post written just before the bankruptcy announcement was a defense of Newhouse newspapers and its decision to reduce the print schedule of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans.

The bankruptcy auction is scheduled to conclude February 15, though the process is expected to merely transfer the ownership of the company to 21st CMH Acquisition Co., an affiliate of funds managed by Alden Global Capital. More musical chairs.