Messenger set to reduce home delivery
News Corp is set to cut back on home deliveries of its free Messenger community newspapers in Adelaide, starting next week, according to an internal document obtained by InDaily.
The document, described as an “internal brief” to staff, says Messenger deliveries to flats and units will be cut, starting with the Guardian and then proceeding to the suite of other newspapers.
Distribution to central points – such as shops, council chambers and newsagents – will be increased.
Messenger Editor-in-Chief Jessica Leo did not comment on the veracity of the document, but confirmed the plan.
“As you would expect, Messenger wants the distribution of its titles to be as efficient as possible and so we regularly assess our distribution mix,” she said in a statement.
“The reality is that in some flats and units not all copies are read and some are left on the street.
“So we are adjusting the distribution of our papers accordingly – reducing the number of deliveries to flats and units and increasing those to retailers and newsagents.”
The document provides coaching to Messenger employees about how to respond to complaints.
Staff are told to first encourage any unhappy readers who have lost their home delivery to look online – either on the general Messenger site or the “digital” edition site. The final option is to pick up a printed copy from listed central locations, such as supermarkets, shopping centres, council chambers and newsagencies.
The document instructs staff not to make promises to disgruntled customers: “If the caller is still not satisfied with the above answers and solutions, do not promise that we will restore delivery.”
If readers ask why a neighbour is still receiving a copy, staff are told to say: “We have learned that group addresses (ie flats and units), generally speaking, have a tendency to leave papers on the street, unclaimed”.
“This creates a mess on the street, and in some cases a hazard to pedestrians.
“Again, if you are a flat or unit dweller who reads their copy, we do value your readership, and we regret that we are no longer able to deliver to your specific address. We urge you to access Messenger in one of the ways we’ve outlined.”
There is some hope for restoration of services to readers from nursing homes or retirement villages, with the document (under a heading referring to “inconsolable callers”) advising that “there are processes logistics can enact if they get enough feedback from one particular site”.
Messenger editorial will develop a shared spreadsheet, along with the logistics, distribution and advertising sections, which will record these complaints.
According to the document, the cuts will be phased on from May to June on the following schedule:
Guardian – May 11
Northern – May 25
City North – June 1
Mitcham & Hills – June 1
East Torrens – June 8
Leader – June 8
Southern Times – June 15
Portside – June 22
Weekly Times – June 22
Eastern Courier – June 29
Newspaper print readership falls – again
Newspaper print readership has fallen again although some regional titles are bucking the trend, according to the latest Roy Morgan survey.
The Roy Morgan statistics for March 2016 showed the number of Australians who read the print edition of at least one metro daily newspaper (Monday to Friday) had fallen 10 per cent compared to March 2015.
Interestingly, two regional titles performed strongly: the Geelong Advertiser lifted its readership by 15.2 per cent, while the Gold Coast Bulletin added 5.8 per cent. The Newcastle Herald, after some declines in 2015, steadied.
In Sydney, the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald were virtually unchanged.
Australia’s most read weekday newspaper, Melbourne’s Herald Sun, lost 3 per cent of readers, while The Age shed 16.8 per cent.
Nationally, The Australian lost 7.2 per cent of readers to 310,000 while the Australian Financial Review was relatively steady, losing 2.5 per cent to hit 192,000
In Adelaide, The Advertiser was down 3 per cent to 324,000 on weekdays. The Saturday edition lost 20,000 readers over the year – down from 391,000 to 371,000. The Sunday Mail lost a similar number – down from 447,000 to 425,000.
The Northern Territory News, which has flicked the switch to vaudeville, increased its readership, including on Saturdays, as did the Sunday Territorian.
News and Fairfax lose money
Perhaps related to the above, News Corp and Fairfax both announced less than ideal results today.
News Corp has slipped into the red with a third-quarter loss of $US149 million ($A200 million) after revenue dropped 7.3 per cent. Advertising revenue fell 9.7 per cent and circulation and subscription revenue dropped 3.6 per cent, while the company also took a $US280 million pre-tax hit from a lawsuit.
Competitor Fairfax reported today that revenue for the first 17 weeks of its second half was down between two and three per cent. The company says metro media revenue, which includes the Domain real-estate advertising business, is up about two per cent.
Domain on Friday said it has paid $15 million for a 35 per cent stake in Oneflare, an online service to connect customers with local tradies.
Fairfax flags weekend-only papers
Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood today flagged a switch to weekend-only print editions of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Hywood says the titles could go weekend-only because those editions generate the majority of their advertising revenue. On the other hand, the Fairfax business paper, the Australian Financial Review, could go the opposite way and drop its weekend edition.
“In the case of the SMH and The Age, the newspapers could potentially offer a differentiated consumer experience designed for the weekend,” Hywood said in a speech to the Macquarie Australia Conference.
“This fits with what consumers want – 24/7 digital and print with more lifestyle and contextual information on the weekend when there is more time to engage.”
Dinner with your newspaper?
There are reports out of the US today that The New York Times, which has delivered newspapers for decades, now wants to deliver food to reader’s doorsteps.
The newspaper publisher has partnered with Chef’d, a meal kit delivery company, to ship boxes of uncooked food based on recipes from The New York Times Cooking site and app.
Customers cook up the meals on their own, using step-by-step recipes that come in the boxes. The paper says the meals will go on sale this northern summer.
The deal is a presented as a way for the Times to boost revenue outside of its print business. It also sells tickets to its conferences and hawks posters, maps and jewellery online.
Moving between journalism and PR
Women in Media SA (WIMSA) is focusing its next event on the issues involved in moving your career from journalism to PR – or vice versa.
WIMSA, an initiative of the journalists’ union, the MEAA, will host a panel discussion – “Sliding Doors: Transitioning between PR and journalism” – with a strong line-up of local women who have made this shift.
To be held in the Stag hotel’s champagne bar next Tuesday (10 May) from 6.30pm, the panel discussion will be led by Megan Lloyd, a former Sunday Mail editor, now Holden corporate affairs manager, and will include Jill Bottrall (journalism, media adviser and corporate affairs manager), Belinda Heggen (journalist, PR consultant), Genevieve Meegan (journalist and publicist), and Petra Starke (journalist, columnist, blogger, publicist and PR consultant). Seven reporter, and former government media adviser, Jayne Stinson will wrap up the discussion.
Tickets are $25 if pre-booked here.
Social media continues to be full of pitfalls for media organisations. Nine News this week suffered much ridicule for its quick-fire Tweet after Leicester City won the Premier League championship this week. The Premier League doesn’t have a “grand final”, and the match that handed the Foxes the championship was played between Tottenham and Chelsea.
To make things worse, in a rush to “correct” the first Tweet, Nine then claimed that Chelsea had “defeated” Tottenham.
In the interests of credibility, it’s usually better to forsake speed for accuracy.
Top of the class
The Australian Press Council has awarded this year’s Press Freedom Medal to Fairfax reporter Kate McClymont and News Corp’s Paul Maley. McClymont is known for her relentless investigative reporting, including many matters that have ended up before the ICAC in NSW. Maley, The Australian’s national security editor, is known for his exemplary coverage of Islamic State.
McClymont said: “I am both touched and honoured to be awarded the Press Freedom Medal. In accepting this prestigious award, I hope I can inspire the next generation of journalists to have the courage not to look the other way. For democracy to flourish, it is vital that our journalists continue to hold those in power to account.”
Maley said: “The Islamic State, like all tyrannies, relies on violence, intimidation and fear to govern. Journalists cannot defeat it, but we can rob it of the false prestige it uses to destroy young lives. We must continue to do this, despite whatever threats are thrown our way. I am profoundly honoured to receive the Press Freedom Medal which recognises the work of all journalists in this field.”
– With additional reporting today from AP and AAP.
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