Los Angeles Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein sent out a paper-wide missive today calling 2009 "a year of great progress" — he even calls it "an incredble year" — and makes no mention of the latest round of newsroom cutbacks. But there is a nod to the challenging year, and some advance spin for what he telegraphs will be some disappointing circulation numbers next week.
Next Monday, the Audit Bureau of Circulation will release 6-month circulation averages for the newspaper industry and figures for The Times are expected to be consistent with year-over-year declines in other major metropolitan markets. It’s important to put these results in context as they reflect several variables...
Said variables, and the whole memo, after the jump.
From: Hartenstein, Eddy
Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 3:56 PM
To: zzTrbAllHandsLAT; zzMediaGroups
Dear LATMG Colleagues:
2009 has been an incredible year, with the media business riding the continuing waves of challenges. We have obviously not been exempt from the weight of a struggling economy, record unemployment and a rapidly changing marketplace, but we have taken some dramatic actions over the past year to improve our profitability and are on track to a sustainable future as the leading voice of news and information for Southern California.
As recently as last week, our portfolio-wide newsroom integration became complete, allowing the growing group of LATMG’s products targeting different audiences to resonate with the voice and trust for which we are known. In tandem, we are providing our clients, old and new, with more innovative choices and platforms – the well-received latimes.com redesign being a perfect example – as well as increased reach across the marketplace.
Next Monday, the Audit Bureau of Circulation will release 6-month circulation averages for the newspaper industry and figures for The Times are expected to be consistent with year-over-year declines in other major metropolitan markets. It’s important to put these results in context as they reflect several variables, including increases we have made to single copy and home delivery prices, the reduction of non-profitable copies in markets outside of Southern California, and the elimination of early week “bonus days.” It’s also important to understand that while our core paid circulation average has declined, that’s only one part of the story. Our most recent readership research shows print readers are more engaged and the average numbers of readers per copy has grown. And our current competitive media campaign – which will be ramped up further – is designed to help tell the real story of The Times’ influence when contrasted with other media.
The breadth and depth of what LATMG offers, through events, digital, mobile, newsletters, niche products, community newspapers, Spanish-language products and, of course, our broadcast partner KTLA, and more, also has grown and is aimed at consumers with increasingly diverse tastes and behaviors. Our bold, new INK campaign creative executions will be rolling-out around town and across the Web to coincide with new product developments and editorial focus, and we are planning a series of events and programs targeting the advertising community. In other words, we are executing a comprehensive communication plan to strengthen relationships with our clients and our community.
Finally, our customer acquisition resources have been increased and refined to re-position the core newspaper with a focus on the key content differentiators. These efforts, combined with zeroing in our consumer sales resources on areas most desired by our advertisers, will enhance our bottom line and allow us to continue to invest in our future.
In short, there’s been great progress, but the remaining 10 weeks of this year, and 2010, will continue to challenge us, our readers and users, and our advertising partners. It’s imperative we remain opportunistic and optimistic, while we continue to deliver world-class journalism and relevant news and information to our readers alongside innovative marketing solutions for our clients.