Thursday, January 15, 2009

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

I had a chance today, along with other leading public relations and marketing leaders to sit down at the conference table with Tom Callinan, Cincinnati Enquirer Editor and VP Content and Audience Development today. This was especially timely with the paper recently eliminating one section of the paper and cutting its features section by 25 percent. In a few months, the paper will also slightly reduce the width of its pages.

Overall, Callinan says there are more positives to report than negatives, such as: 1. Despite layoffs of about 30 managers and writers, the paper has actually increased the number of hard news reporters; 2. This news is a little old but I had never heard that Wired Magazine last year cited the Enquirer as a leader in advancing online news and it also ranked as the third largest aggregator of print and web news last year among the nation's 35 biggest papers finishing behind the Washington Post and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; 3. 80 percent of the readers who became subscribers when the Scripps Howard publication disappeared have remained with the Enquirer.

Callinan says many of the cutbacks have prompted complaints but now cancellations (the biggest gripes have come from presumably older readers who don't have cable and don't like the shrunken tv listings). A big worry for him is that earlier business models assumed that as readers aged into their 20s and 30s they would return to reading the newspaper for news about financial planning and paying for college for kids. He says paper analysts now realize that's probably not going to happen.

Bottom line on how people view the paper: His hope is that people see the Enquirer as trying its best to be a watchdog, not influenced in a negative sense by community leaders and organizations but not the enemy.

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