Daily Buys Weeklies
by Jody Reese
Last week area readers and advertisers got some bad news, though it was certainly good news for the Telegraph, which is owned by a Pennsylvania media company.
The Telegraph purchased the Cabinet Press, including a weekly in Milford and three free weeklies — the Brookline-Hollis Journal, the Merrimack Journal and the Bedford Journal.
The Telegraph’s buy is part of a nationwide trend. As daily newspapers have seen readership erode and profits begin to slip, they’ve diversified into weekly newspapers.
“The growth in readership in the industry has been at the weekly level,” Telegraph editor and now publisher of the Cabinet David Solomon told the Telegraph for an article that paper did on the sale.
A few years ago, The Union Leader bought the Bedford Bulletin, Goffstown News, Hooksett Banner, Bow Times and Salem Observer. The Eagle-Tribune and Concord Monitor also own weeklies.
The buying up of weekly newspapers is about more than just dailies trying to tap into a growth market. It’s about reducing the competition for advertisers and readers.
In the case of The Union Leader, it killed off the hard-news edge of its weeklies, forcing those readers to look to The Union Leader for their hard-charging news. The Telegraph recently started a free weekly that aims for the youth market and delivers no news.
The Telegraph promises it won’t reduce the Cabinet’s news operation, but I find that unlikely. What happens when the Cabinet reporter breaks a story that the Telegraph wants to run that day, not in a week when the Cabinet is published? Soon real news will flow to the Telegraph, with the Cabinet focusing more on happy news.
On the advertising end, the news is equally bad. In an interesting turn, while dailies have seen readership and market penetration level off and drop, they have not decreased advertising rates. That has made it more and more expensive to reach fewer and fewer people. Weekly competitors, such as the Cabinet, the Hippo and Londonderry Times, have made it more difficult for dailies to continue to raise those rates.
By buying the Cabinet newspapers, the Telegraph has taken a competitor off the field, making it easier to charge higher ad rates. In fact, the Telegraph offered to buy Hippo more than a year ago, but we immediately turned it down.
Expect Hippo to keep doing its part to keep ad rates down and readers reading by offering affordable rates and a quality product.
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