Print newspapers certainly are a product of the past, as many companies reach their 150-year anniversaries. And there are faster and less expensive ways to communicate the news. Newspaper subscriptions and advertising fees continue to decline as consumers and advertisers turn to alternatives, and the recession is forcing many newspaper companies to shut down completely or convert to purely online companies.

Ann Arbor News will publish its last edition in July and be accessible thereafter only at AnnArbor.com. Three eastern Michigan dailies, owned by the same company, are decreasing their circulation to three days per week. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, both daily newspapers, have already discontinued their print editions.

But some print newspapers trying to find the silver lining and using decreased print circulations to their advantage. The Saginaw News, The Flint Journal, and The Bay City Times print when readership is at its highest: Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. These print newspapers also are adding more local content, additional pages, and more features, then using the Web site http://www.MLive.com to convey breaking news, photos, videos, and content, published continuously. In addition, these three newspapers are combining production functions to cut costs further.

Michigan’s economy is experiencing particular distress due to the failure of auto companies, though the withering newspaper trend is occurring elsewhere too. The main newspaper for Seattle, Washington, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, is only available online. The Rocky Mountain News inDenver has literally stopped the presses.

Opportunities exist everywhere though, and in a slowing industry, print newspaper companies might seek advantages by zeroing in on the value and content that their customers desire while simultaneously managing their costs.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some print newspapers doing to enhance customer value?

Russell Adams, “Ann Arbor News to Cease Publication,” The Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2009; Sven T. Gustafson, “Mid-Michigan Newspapers Announce New Three-Day Publication Model,” MLive.com, March 23, 2009.