Monday, January 5, 2015

How Do Newspapers Make Money?

Before I began writing online, I wrote feature articles for a local newspaper. Some of them were on local businesses, a couple were guest columns, and one I remember in particular was on the local "Mother of the Year,"which was a fun story. But my newspaper work began years before as a secretary in the Circulation Department. It was dull, boring and routine. The one thing it gave me was basic knowledge of how a newspaper works and its sources of revenue.

Newspapers Make Money From Advertisers

Advertisers make up the biggest revenue a newspaper receives. People or companies pay for advertising in the paper in "display" or "classified" ads. Display ads are the big ones you see with pictures, photos, throughout the paper. They are the most expensive, a full-page ad can run hundreds of dollars. Classified ads are a separate section of line ads within the paper, of various items for sale; houses, cars, musical instruments, yard sale ads, and legal notices, etc. They are the cheapest of ads, but because of that, there is a greater quantity of them than display ads.

The author in the 1980s
at her desk at the paper.

Another Source Of Revenue

Yet another source of revenue for a newspaper is "inserts." These can range from one page to several pages, inserted (hence the name) into the paper after it is printed. Inserts are pre-printed and supplied to the paper by the advertiser. If they supply 30,000 and the circulation of the paper is 50,000, of course there aren't enough to go around. This is why the newspaper you receive could be lacking an insert. Another thing that could prevent your receiving an insert is that they are put into each paper by machine. Sometimes, as they go through the machine, they slip and slide, causing more than one to be put into a paper. Of course, this creates a shortage of them for the rest of the newspaper run.

The Least Source Of Newspaper Revenue

Subscribers are the least source of newspaper revenue, but that doesn't mean they're the least important. An example of their importance is that one of the jobs in the Circulation Department was taking complaint calls after the morning delivery, and routing those calls to the correct carrier for re-delivery. We also kept track of how many of those calls each carrier received and turned them in to the boss each week. I know there were carriers who were removed from their routes because of excessive failure to deliver. Due to the record keeping, the pattern for neglect of a customer was easy to spot over a month's time. The paper's ultimate responsibility was to the paying subscribers and we honored that. Without subscribers, there would be no need for paying advertisers and subsequently, no need for a newspaper. Subscribers are the life's blood of a newspaper.

Newspapers Are Struggling

Because of the increasing use of the internet online news in the past 20 years, newspapers are struggling to stay afloat. Many people prefer the computer to a morning paper. However, there are still people who do not use or have a computer. For these people, there's nothing like the smell of newsprint, the feel of the paper as they unfold it, and having morning coffee and breakfast while catching up on current events. Since I've always read the newspaper all my life, I still do this every morning and then head for my computer. It's the best of both worlds. You might like to subscribe to one of these newspapers below.