Last week, the Gazette-Times ran an op-ed from Graham Kislingbury, asserting in part that the daily’s problems would be solved if only more folks would subscribe to it. We think the opposite to be the case, and that Lee Enterprises will continue cutting its Corvallis budgets until we as a community take a stand and stop unconditionally handing them gobs of money.
Let’s define gobs: On September 15, Lee Enterprises filed their yearly Certificate of Publication under penalty of perjury stating the Gazette-Times has 4,086 hard copy subscribers and 991 online subscribers. At current rates, the GT’s monthly subscription haul would be at least $111,191 (that’s over $1.3 million yearly). If their ratios are consistent with other dailies, that revenue figure more than doubles once advertising buys are added in.
Our community deserves better than this for its money. In the last year, Lee Enterprises has forced the GT to fire gifted reporters, then closed its local office. Just last month, Lee not only laid off the GT’s well-liked longtime editor, but also announced it would run its daily papers here without any editors.
Industry insiders have a term for newspapers hollowed by conglomerates like Lee — ghost papers, or alternatively, papers-in-name-only. One commentator goes so far as to call these hollowed offerings zombie papers.
Even this week, Lee continues touting subscribership as a support for local journalism, but the evidence suggests our community’s dollars, your dollars, are going somewhere else. In exasperation, the only thing that seems rational to do is to stop taking Lee’s word for anything, and simply kick them in the pocketbook with a cancellation — and a note as to why. This may be the only action our shared community can take to force Lee’s reinvestment into the Gazette-Times.
The Advocate — which runs online daily news that’s commensurate with what the GT offers — operates on $7,000 monthly. We still want to offer more daily news, and have publicly committed that the next $7,000 monthly in revenue would fund hiring two new city beat reporters. Our subscriptions run between $5 and $15 monthly.
If you support local news and journalism, take a hard look at how your time and money are being appreciated.