Tracking changes in the newspaper world isn’t pretty.
Newspaper closings are all too commonplace. Publications either become digital-only or cease publishing print editions. The ad dominance of Facebook and Google has further eroded critical profits.
As of December, Columbia Journalism Review reported 3,100+ journalists had lost jobs in 2019. Between 2008 and 2018, newsroom employment declined by 25%, according to Pew Research Center.
Yet, cuts to print editions are often cited to keep jobs. That’s the case with four dailies in Maine, including the Portland Press Herald, Lewiston Sun Journal, Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal, which will cut their Monday print runs March 2.
Each newspaper will continue to publish seven editions a week, with Monday’s edition available exclusively online.
“The savings from digital-only Monday enables us to keep our newsrooms at the size that they are and continue to produce the journalism that’s important to our community,” Lisa DeSisto, CEO of Masthead Maine, the parent publisher, told the Press Herald.
The move will mean a reduction in overtime hours for printing press operators and reduced schedules for part-time workers. However, no job losses are expected.
Masthead Maine reports that 70% of its full-week subscribers to the four papers are not registered for the papers’ digital products, including the website, leaving a portion of its readership with the responsibility of seeking out the digital Monday issue.
The move to reduce printing frequency follows a trend across the industry.
Last year, McClatchy began to scale back Saturday editions at many of its papers nationwide. It plans to eliminate the Saturday edition at the Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee on Jan. 11. The Miami Herald's Saturday print edition ends in March.
More worrisome to the Steel City, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has plans to eventually eliminate its print product. At present, the paper only prints Thursday, Friday and Sunday editions. John Robinson Block, editor-in-chief of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, wrote of digital publishing last fall: “It is a superior means of delivery for what we intend to be — an even better and more in-depth journalistic product.”