News on the Cheap: The Ogden Newspapers’ Business Plan
- Minimize costs by cutting workers, overworking those who are left, and underpaying them.
- Utilize economies of scale by printing previously-used local editorials throughout the chain.
- Periodically publish columns and editorials reminding readers what a great job the newspaper is doing.
The Nashua Telegraph
From Paige Sutherland at New Hampshire Public Radio last August:
Last week, the Telegraph's top editor, Sandy Bucknam, was fired after working for the paper for 39 years.
When Bucknam first started, he says, The Telegraph employed about 20 reporters. When he left, he says there were five – working 60-plus hours a week and expected to write three stories a day.
The new owners, Bucknam says, put too much emphasis on the bottom line.
“Ogden has a misguided concept that a couple of people can put out five weeklies and three dailies in about two and a half days and it’s just a risky way of producing pages," Bucknam said. "What if someone gets sick? Who fills in?”
I visited the paper’s office off Main Street to talk with publisher Heather Goodwin Henline last week – she was unavailable and has not returned multiple calls and emails.
The Uniontown Herald-Standard
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last July:
A group of workers were laid off Monday at the Uniontown Herald-Standard. Those whose jobs were cut include reporters, editors and photographers. The daily paper was purchased last month by Ogden Newspapers of Wheeling, W.Va. Ogden is a family-run publishing company whose chief executive, Robert Nutting, also owns the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Officials at Ogden and the Herald-Standard were not available for comment.
The Frederick News-Post
From the News-Post last April:
The transition included downsizing News-Post staff, though [Cameron] Nutting declined to give the exact number of News-Post employees who were let go. Nutting said the downsizing was necessary in order for the company to have long-term financial sustainability.
The Lawrence Journal-World
From the Columbia Journalism Review in July 2016:
[Karen] Dillon was one of some 30 staffers who received their two-weeks notice Monday, just a month after West Virginia-based Ogden Newspapers purchased the World Company from the Simons family, which had run the Journal-World for 125 years. An unbylined article published by the Journal-World the following day stated that most of the cuts were not to the news staff. But along with Dillon, who was the paper’s investigative reporter, longtime staffers such as opinion-page editor Ann Gardner, sports reporter Gary Bedore, and photographers Richard Gwin and Mike Yoder were laid off (or, in the company’s preferred formulation, “not hired” by new ownership). Also gone are several copy editors, among other changes.
These recent Ogden acquisitions are all quite similar: buy a paper and then immediately cut staff.
Some things don’t change – I found this reader comment after the NH Public Radio story:
I have been a subscriber for decades because of the local coverage, but now find more useless national right wing opinions on the op-ed pages probably written for political purposes by the paper's owners who are out of touch with local reality. Frankly, now the obituaries and the comic section is all it has going for it for me.
Baseball on the Cheap: The Nutting Business Plan for the Pittsburgh Pirates
- Field an inexpensive team by trading/not signing quality (higher salaried) players.
- Use “building for the future” and “restocking our depleted minor league system” whenever criticized for #1.
- Stand pat at the trading deadline if the team somehow manages to contend.
- Continually point out that small-market teams cannot compete and hope that no one notices the small-market teams that are competing.
- Threaten to move the team elsewhere if heavily criticized.
- Remember that bobblehead nights are always cheaper than paying actual players.
Within the last week, the Pittsburgh Pirates have traded two of their best players, Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, and gotten little in return. (And popular Josh Harrison appears to be next.) Veteran Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer Ron Cook explains:
I feel sorry for Pirates fans, who, if the television ratings and attendance drops are any indication, are diminishing by the minute. You are following the worst franchise in baseball, maybe in all of sports. Steelers fans have a team that tries to win every year even if it often comes up short of its ultimate goal. Penguins fans have the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. But you poor Pirates fans? What do you have? Next year? The year after? The year after that?
The McCutchen trade had been long-rumored. Here’s Pittsburgh TribLive sports writer Kevin Gorman explaining in December what the trade meant before it was made:
There is only one way to describe the Pirates aggressively attempting to trade Andrew McCutchen, the face of the franchise.
The ultimate betrayal.
Not just to McCutchen but to Pirates fans and the City of Pittsburgh.
We deserve better than a bottom-line owner more concerned with making payroll than the playoffs, one whose words simply are lip service.
We have given Bob Nutting the benefit of the doubt. Now all that remains is the doubt.
Three years ago, Nutting promised to “compete for championships.”
Yet when McCutchen signed a six-year, $51.5-million deal in March 2012 — an absolute bargain when he won National League MVP a year later — the Pirates didn't spend the money they saved with McCutchen on complementary pieces.
Yes, the Nutting’s baseball business plan appears to be working and Pirate fans have yet another “next year.”
For what it’s worth, there’s a petition at Change.org
For MLB to Force Bob Nutting to sell the Pittsburgh Pirates
At 5 PM today it had over 31,000 signatures.