MN’s largest evening newspaper cuts printed paper

Another newspaper in Minnesota is yielding to the economics of the newspaper industry and cutting back the number of days it issues a printed paper.

The Rochester Post Bulletin has announced it will no longer issue a printed Friday edition. It will publish only five days a week.

The paper’s publisher tried to portray the decision as a step ahead for quality journalism.

“Having a modern business model that fits today’s world will allow us to improve the paper overall, while protecting our readers from price increases for the foreseeable future” said Publisher Len R. Small. “Everybody knows the world is changing, and we intend to prepare for a better future.”

Is the business better off eliminating the printed product? Or is it the beginning of the end?

The Post Bulletin claims its analysis of other papers in the nation that have cut back print production shows it can be successful, although it didn’t say what constitutes “success.”

The New Orleans Times Picayune was one of the first large newspapers to give up on print when it made the move to three-days-a week in 2012. It cut the number of journalists while insisting the journalism would be even better, a neat trick.

A year later, another newspaper (The Advocate out of Baton Rouge) started a New Orleans edition to mixed success.

The Times Picayune’s online daily replacement — NOLA.com — is still going and when tornadoes struck the area earlier this year, it patted itself on the back for being better than the old method.

In the PB’s case, it will move content — obituaries, for example — to other days of the week while increasing content on its website.

“Plainly stated, quality local journalism comes at a cost, but is an investment for both our future and the community’s,” Kristy Mintz, the Post Bulletin’s marketing director, said in today’s notice. “Subscription fees only pay a small portion of the cost of delivering the news. Income from ad revenue is changing. A five-day press schedule is the most viable option for maintaining and improving our 24/7 news coverage and developing Postbulletin.com, one of the most visited news websites in Minnesota, with over 500,000 monthly readers.”

The Post Bulletin is the second paper in Minnesota to cut production this year. In April, the Globe of Worthington — formerly the Worthington Daily Globe — began publishing only two days a week, ending a streak of daily papers in the city that began in 1872.

  • Gary F

    My wife and I are in our early-mid fifties, we get the dead tree version of the Star Tribune. I look at some of the Sunday ads, maybe, and my wife does the crossword puzzle. Many times I just take it out of the plastic bag and it goes right in the recycling.

    I wonder if anyone under the age of 40 gets the cellulose fiber version of the paper.?

    • I’d be lost without a paper in my hands. There is no way the online platform is a suitable replacement except to skim through a front page and get, basically, McNews.

      Reading an actual newspaper, actually turning the page and seeing what’s on there and maybe reading what’s on there, exposes you to far, far more stories than trying to navigate an online version.

      • Gary F

        i used to be that guy. A cup of coffee and the papers. I used to get both the Pioneer Press and the Enemy Paper, as Souchary would call it.. When my son was little he learned to read by looking at the sports page. We’d talk about where the cites and states were on the map and why the Vikings were called the Vikings and the 49’ers the 49’ers. We’d talk about Latin baseball players and eastern European hockey players and find their countries on the map. We’d worked our way up from simple math to percentages. It was a great experience.

        I’m not sure what my son will do if he has kids. It’s different on a screen.

      • Rob

        With which particular dead tree media do you have a tactile relationship?

      • KTN

        After 60+ years, a member of my family no longer gets the Strib delivered. When I moved to Montana this past summer, I had to cancel our delivery – that was a hard thing to do for sure.
        We have 2 daily papers here, plus a weekly, and they are all pretty good – with strong journalistic work done by many of the writers.

        I don’t know if I’m losing anything by only reading digital or not. I seem to be just as angry at the news as before – but without ink stains on my fingers.

    • jon

      Do they still deliver that free paper every week… the one they opted every one into and you need to call to opt out of?

      I’ve opted out of it dozens of times… no reason to waste a tree for something that just goes into the trash.
      I’ve cited littering laws while calling them and threatened them with lawsuits over damage done by delivering an unwanted paper (it’s gone through the shoot of my snowblower more than once because they delivered it to the middle of my driveway before a snowstorm, snow blower is robust so no real damage, but part of me wants to make them buy me a new one anyhow.)

      Every few months I had to call and cancel again because they’d opt me back in (or the delivery driver would change) which makes the deliveries more unpredictable and more likely that a random paper will go through a snow blower shoot…

      That said, I do look through the local suburbs paper that gets delivered every week… The SUN focus I think… that hyper local stuff is harder to get to on the internet… (though the local papers have more of an internet presence now than they used to…)

      Any how to your point, under 40, totally opposed to national and regional print papers… no need for them from my perspective… (local papers are probably headed that way too…)

      • The PiPress.It’s not really a paper… at least newspaper. It’s bundled advertising. On my pre-dawn Monday dog walk, I pick them up from the gutter and toss them in the trash (trash collection day).

        We have a lot of problems facing the country right now. That we’re too informed and well read about the news isn’t one of them.

        • jon

          I thought I was getting an s-trib…
          Whatever it was you are correct, it was largely advertising wrapped up with a few articles… none of them worth while.

          I like to believe I’m fairly well informed, and I’m debating paying for a few online subscriptions (particularly now that the free google news loophole is closing)… but I’ve no need for a physical paper, either for ads or for articles, I can get both from a source that is available to me on demand.

          • Right, but as I said earlier there’s no way people can be exposed to the full content in the paper through online means. No doubt they’ll well informed about a few top stories. But they’re not widely informed about the world.

            Heck, take Brandon Stahl’s most excellent story the other day about the go-to Hennepin County expert who’ll be only too glad to declare people sane to stand trial.

            It was Pulitzer Prize material. Front page of the paper.

            Nowhere to be found online.

          • jon
          • Did you know it was there before I told you?

          • jon

            Does it matter?

            Nothing I have set up online would have ever pulled up an article about a hennepin county story… I don’t live in hennepin county, I don’t go out of my way to follow anything about hennepin county…

            But,

            Did you catch the story about the FCC eliminating the requirement for local radio studios? (happened end of october, arstechnica covered it.)
            How about the bloomberg article about people being priced out of trailer homes because of the demand created by recent hurricanes?

            These were not major stories, certainly not the few top stories, but these are things that have shown up for me on the internet…
            Is it different than what you read in the paper? Yes.
            Is it less than what you read in the paper? No.

            You wouldn’t accuse some one reading the WaPo to be less informed that some one reading the strib? it’s different, but it’s not less…
            I’d argue the internet is in fact a great deal more… but it is different… and given the vast amount of information it does require being more selective… is that being less informed, or just being differently informed?

          • Actually I saw all of this things in the paper.

            I’m sorry but it’s true. There’s absolutely no way you can stumble on stories browsing the Strib (or any other news site) the way you can with a newspaper.

            The internet as a WHOLE is more comprehensive than a single newspaper, although I’d argue that all the newspapers together can give the Internet as a whole a run for its money in terms of providing information on the day’s news.

            That doesn’t make it bad, and if you’ve chosen not to care about stories from places you don’t live, then you’re probably on the right track. But don’t confuse that with being well informed via one specific form of a single newspaper vs. another.

          • Jack

            //There’s absolutely no way you can stumble on stories browsing the Strib (or any other news site) the way you can with a newspaper.//

            Absolutely right. You only see the links to the stories that everyone else is reading.

            What I find annoying is the links on the article pages that take me to a months old article.

          • The goal is to get page views up. Recycling previous stories does that. The counter doesn’t care what you’re reading.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      Most weeks my Sunday morning ritual is to go get breakfast (bagels or donuts usually) and “the paper”. Which is the Strib. I read the comics, some of the sports (more during baseball season), and the Opinion Exchange (some weeks I skip it if the topics are things I’ve heard people talking about on radio and TV all week.) and occasionally look at some of the ads. My wife is the reader in the family and goes through many of the sections. If she finds something she thinks I should read she’ll give it to me. (Last week there was an article on a luxury train in Ireland she pointed out.)

      I’ve received an offer to subscribe to the Sunday edition for what amounts to half price. They’ll throw in full access to online edition for an extra dime a week. I might do it again (I’ve done it in the past and then let it lapse.)

      • Jack

        Your wife sounds like me. I got through the paper first and only save what my spouse wants to read plus any other items that I think are interesting. I also picked out the luxury train.

        Unlike you, we do the daily subscription of the Strib but by the time it arrives at the door, I’ve read most of it on-line.

  • Mike Worcester

    Has any newspaper out there figured out the right balance between print/digital/quality journalism? I think of The Guardian but they also are continually asking for what amounts to donations (rather than a subscription) to keep their digital platform operating.

  • Laurie K.

    As the daughter of former small town newspaper owners, I will always support my local newspaper. I do occasionally get the STrib as well and I am always glad I do – I generally learn something new that I wouldn’t necessarily find online.