As if the print newspaper industry didn't have enough problems attracting readers (and thus advertisers) these days, Gannett persists in its effort to drive away the few aging, loyal readers who remain. How? By continuing to use half-pages of newsprint that create a newspaper that is physically impossible to hold and read.
It's not that readers object to advertising. We know it's a necessary source of revenue for the paper, and that it might even help to keep rates to subscribers from going yet even higher. Indeed, there are some readers who even look for the ads rather than immediately pitch them into the recycle bin.
What they are understandably objecting to is this relatively new practice of slicing off a half of the first page of the newspaper, making it physically impossible to hold and read the paper without having it fall apart (since the half-page on top of the front page is now connected to the full page of newsprint that is the back page of the paper).
Something like this could only have been designed by newspaper employees in the advertising department who do not actually read their own paper. They sell, look at, and design the ads, but have never tried to hold the entire paper once so constructed.
Today's Press-Citizen is not the first salvo in Gannett's war on its readers. It is the fourth time we've had to bring this marketing and advertising disaster to the attention of the company's executives -- always to be ignored. The analogies to a company deliberately alienating the very customers its profits depend upon in order to gain very short term sales are hard to find -- aside from the tobacco industry's deliberately killing off its customer base and then searching for "replacement smokers" among our children. Perhaps "killing the goose that laid the golden eggs," or the boss who would "steal the bass drum from his own brass band," or the Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax, come close.
Here are the earlier efforts:
"Newspapers' Zucchini; Gannett Modifies Half-Page Newsprint Ads But Outraged Readers' Protest Continues," April 18, 2011;
"Abusive Advertising; It's Time to Strike Back," April 6, 2011; and
"A Half-Page Newspaper Not Better Than None; Disintegrating Paper Contributing to Disintegrating Industry," September 20, 2010.
Because it is the advertisers who actually make this assault possible, and have the power to stop it, as you'll see from the earlier blogs linked above, we've now moved beyond appeals to management and have taken to identifying the advertisers -- for such use as readers may wish to make of this information. Today's offenders have now been added to the following list of Gannett's "Abusive Advertisers":
June 1, 2011
Thomas L. Cardella Associates ("call center")
Lenoch & Cilek/Ace
Emma Goldman Clinic
(and, given even advertisers lack of interest in this abuse,)
(which was left no option but to buy most of the space from itself)
Des Moines Register
HyVee (front section)
Vision 4 Less (back section)
Let us continue to hope this list will shrink, rather than expand, over time.