With roots in the Bay Area, the news in my favorite hometown, the City of SF, is one I always keep an eye on. OK, so it’s also my ONLY hometown. But truth be told, even before the Hearst-Examiner $66M episode with the Fang family, the SF Chronicle never really recovered after the passing of Herb Caen, the paper’s guiding light & cantankerous columnist for decades. You could just feel the paper slip from that very day, never to recover. Sure, no longer having Mayor Willie’s dapper suits on the front page, Editor Phil’s marriage to hollywood stardom shot down, and the Pink Section vanishing…then reappearing…all contributed.
So, of course, did other things: the Dot-bomb of 2000 [when $50M start-ups no longer ironically used Print to attract an Online audience], the Examiner debacle [mentioned above], the tech-savvy residents of The City desiring of more & more news online, and the arrival of ‘Darth Vega’ [maligned Publisher Frank Vega, brought in to shake up things…like the Unions].
Today, the fascinating story continues, and it may be a good one: The SF Chronicle will, as of Monday, go to Glossy stock on its outer Wrap pages. Gloss in a Daily edition! Not being in the Bay Area these days, the HuffPo article, [online, yes I know] is > here.
Newspapers do need to innovate, no question. There is question if this move will work or not, but kudos to them trying something new. Anything, to innovate themselves into a new place of viability. The risk is great here, of course, on the Cost side, as Gloss is significantly more costly than Newsprint. The repro/image quality is much better of course, but whether that translates to “ROI” or not, will be closely watched.
This creates both greater pressure on the Sales team, and a great opportunity. Keeping margins higher to handle the higher cost will be key, and theirs is the task to do that. Keeping the focus on ‘Brand Value’, and not on Cost, is the way to go here. I would also advocate maybe that the Sales team take a page [so to speak] from their brethren on the Magazine side, and consider studying some of the Sales techniques of those firms as taught by the MPA.
Good Luck, Chron! We’ll be watching…uh, reading. Perhaps somewhere in the ether, the beloved Mr Caen will be, too.