journalism

Projo revenue slid 4% in 2013; advertising losses hit $96M

March 12th, 2014 at 10:08 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Projo annual revenue 2005 to 2013By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Journal’s revenue declined at a faster pace in 2013 as continued growth in its contracts for printing and distribution failed to offset falling circulation and another double-digit drop in advertising sales.

The Journal’s revenue totaled $90.1 million in 2013, a Securities & Exchange Commission filing by its parent company A.H. Belo shows. That was a 4% decrease in revenue compared with 2012, more than the prior year’s 1% drop but less than the declines of the five years from 2007 to 2011.

Total Journal revenue has plummeted 46% since 2005, when the newspaper pulled in $165.6 million. A.H. Belo is now in the process of trying to sell the local daily, a process that Chief Financial Officer Alison Engel recently said could be completed by April or May. It’s unclear who the buyer would be.

The Journal remains profitable, according to Engel. Howard Sutton, The Journal’s longtime publisher, and Karen Bordeleau, the paper’s executive editor, did not respond to a request for comment.

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A.H. Belo shares up 30% as company moves to sell Projo

February 24th, 2014 at 12:09 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Providence Journal owner A.H. Belo’s stock is on a tear just as the company prepares to sell the local daily.

Shares of Dallas-based A.H. Belo have jumped more than 30% in New York Stock Exchange trading since closing at $8.05 on Feb. 11, a day before the company announced a $16 million annual profit for 2013 and gave an update on its efforts to sell The Journal. The stock was at $10.49 at 11:56 a.m. Monday.

The rising share price has triggered at least 10 stock transactions by A.H. Belo insiders, SEC filings show.

It’s a far cry from the grim days of early 2009, when A.H. Belo stock tanked amid the post-crisis market crash and deep uncertainty in the newspaper industry. The company’s shares fell as low as 68 cents on March 10, 2009, meaning an investor who bought the stock that day and held it would have a 1,442% gain today.

A.H. Belo Chief Financial Officer Alison Engel told investors Feb. 12 that the company would send out sale books to potential Journal buyers this month, and that she expected the process “to wrap up, I would assume, sometime in April or May.” Engel didn’t respond to an email requesting further comment; Journal executive editor Karen Bordeleau declined to comment.

A.H. Belo already sold its third major newspaper – The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif. – last year, so selling The Journal would allow the company to narrow its business focus to its flagship Dallas Morning News and associated businesses in its home base of Texas.


Exec: Providence Journal could be sold by April or May

February 17th, 2014 at 1:15 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

A.H. Belo is moving ahead with its plan to try and sell The Providence Journal.

“We’ve been working very diligently,” Alison Engel, A.H. Belo’s chief financial officer, told investors last week when asked about where things stand with The Journal. “We really didn’t get started on the process until after year-end for a variety of reasons, including just the holidays and having to complete the 2013 close, etc.”

A.H. Belo, which has owned The Journal since 1997, put the paper up for sale in December as part of an effort to refocus the company on its flagship newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, and its market.

Engel said A.H. Belo executives have “made a lot of progress” in working with Stephens Inc., the investment bank that’s shopping The Journal, to put together a presentation about The Journal’s finances that will be given to potential investors. She said those who’ve expressed interest in buying the paper would likely receive the detailed information by the end of this week.

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‘The government often doesn’t like my reporting.’ Q&A with NYT reporter James Risen

February 6th, 2014 at 5:31 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen will be in Boston Friday to receive the Stephen Hamblett Award from the New England First Amendment Coalition, where our very own Tim White sits on the board.

Risen is a Brown University graduate (he actually worked as a stringer for the Providence Journal) and covers national security and domestic surveillance for the Times (recommended reading: here, here and here). He is the author of “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.” He is now facing a court order to reveal a confidential source in the book, but has said he will go to prison before identifying anyone.

Ahead of his visit to Boston (tickets are still available, by the way), Risen talked with WPRI.com about his ongoing court battle with the government, the importance of sources and the state of the First Amendment in our country. (This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.) (more…)


Could Red Sox/Boston Globe owner John Henry buy the Projo?

December 4th, 2013 at 2:52 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The big news in Rhode Island Wednesday is, of course, that A.H. Belo is putting the Projo up for sale.

The decision won’t surprise veteran Journal-watchers, particularly after Belo’s recent move to shed one of its other two papers – The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif. – for just $27.3 million. It didn’t make much sense for a Dallas-based company that now owns only two big newspapers to have one of them be in its hometown and the other, much smaller one halfway across the country.

Back in 2010, I published a WPRI.com feature story about how much The Journal might fetch these days. On Wednesday I asked two top media analysts to weigh in about the question now, and here’s what they told me, from my updated WPRI.com story:

“I’m not surprised,” Ken Doctor, a media analyst at the research firm Outsell and the author of “Newsonomics,” told WPRI.com. “It’s clear that A.H. Belo is circling the wagons around its home base, Dallas. The Morning News has outperformed Projo and Riverside and has always been a more dominant player there.” …

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Projo revenue nearly steady; Dallas CEO says it’s ‘not for sale’

December 3rd, 2013 at 1:07 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Projo_ad_sales_3Q2013The Providence Journal’s advertising sales continued to decline by double-digits this past summer amid industry upheaval, but the impact was largely offset by a growing number of printing and distribution contracts.

The Journal’s ad revenue was down 10% between July 1 and Sept. 30 compared with the same period in 2012, parent company A.H. Belo disclosed in an SEC filing. Quarterly ad sales fell to $9.4 million, a decrease of $1.1 million.

Total third-quarter revenue at The Journal from all sources was down just 1% from 2012, falling to $22.7 million. Circulation revenue fell 0.5% to $8.8 million. Printing and distribution contracts surged 25% to $3.6 million thanks to new distribution contracts for various other papers and magazines obtained in July from a settlement with another distributor.

The Journal’s average weekday circulation fell from 83,733 to 76,447 during the six-month period ended Sept. 30, according to the most recent report by the Alliance for Audited Media. The paper’s Monday-to-Friday circulation has dropped 47% over the last six years as Rhode Island’s economy struggled.

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Projo’s circulation down more than 11% on Sundays this year

October 31st, 2013 at 9:10 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Projo_e-editionThe Providence Journal’s newspaper sales dipped 11.7% on Sundays during the six months ended Sept. 30.

The paper’s Sunday print circulation was 104,010, down 13,774 from the same period last year, the Alliance for Audited Media reported Thursday. Sunday is the most lucrative edition of the week for most papers.

The Journal also sold an average of 76,447 traditional print editions on weekdays between April 1 and Sept. 30, a decrease of 7,286 since September 2012.

The Journal said its total average weekly circulation was 106,605 when “branded editions” are added, which would include its free ProjoExpress publication. The audit group changed its rules in 2011 to count those.

Saturday print circulation fell by 12,034 copies – from 106,775 to 94,741 – as of Sept. 30, the group said.

(more…)


The Providence Journal’s parent company just got 13% smaller

October 10th, 2013 at 12:16 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

And then there were two.

The Providence Journal’s Dallas-based parent company, A.H. Belo, announced Thursday the sale of one of its three newspaper divisions: The Press Enterprise of Riverside, Calif., acquired for $27.3 million (including real estate) by Freedom Communications Holdings, owner of the Orange County Register.

The possibility has been floated for a while by A.H. Belo investors, who’ve noted how many different companies are currently operating in the Southern California newspaper market. Meanwhile, Freedom chief Aaron Kushner has aggressively doubled-down on the print side of the newspaper business at the Register.

The sale leaves A.H. Belo owning only two major newspapers: its flagship Dallas Morning News and The Providence Journal here in Rhode Island. The Journal is a much smaller operation, contributing only 21% of A.H. Belo revenue during the first half of 2013; Dallas provided 66% and Riverside 13%. Here’s a chart:

AH_Belo_revenue_1H2013

There was no mention of The Journal in A.H. Belo’s press release about the sale, though A.H. Belo CEO Jim Moroney said the company would use the $27 million in proceeds “to continue to diversify its revenue streams and increase shareholder returns in the future.” The Journal’s union is currently bracing for more layoffs.

• Related: No reason for Belo to sell Projo with price at $51 million (Dec. 28, 2010)


12 in Projo union take buyouts, including Harrop; layoffs loom

October 8th, 2013 at 12:56 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

A dozen members of the Providence Newspaper Guild have agreed to accept buyouts at The Providence Journal but layoffs are still expected to hit the newspaper later this month, a union official said Tuesday.

Guild President John Hill told WPRI.com 12 of his union’s members have taken the buyout, including nationally syndicated opinion columnist Froma Harrop, who serves on The Journal’s five-member editorial board. Harrop has been with the paper since at least the mid-1980s.

Harrop told WPRI.com she will continue to write her twice-weekly column, which is carried in more than 150 newspapers, for distribution by Los Angeles-based Creators Syndicate. The column will continue to appear in The Journal because the paper has agreed to pay to carry it, she said.

Two other newsroom veterans who took buyouts were Richard Dujardin, a longtime religion reporter, and Tracy Breton, a legal and investigative reporter. Dujardin has been with The Journal since 1966, except for a three-year stint in the U.S. Navy, while Breton has been with the newspaper since 1973.

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Projo plans roughly 30 job cuts amid ongoing slump in sales

September 20th, 2013 at 3:25 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Projo_ad_sales_2Q2013Providence Journal executives told employees Friday they plan to cut roughly 30 jobs in the coming weeks through buyouts, and will resort to layoffs if too few workers choose to leave voluntarily, a union official said.

Providence Newspaper Guild President John Hill said reporters, editors and other employees were informed Friday morning about the decision to downsize the staff.

“We were told today they’re looking for in the ballpark of 30 positions but did not have a specific number at this point,” Hill told WPRI.com. “They said the uncertainty is because they want to see how many people will put in for buyouts.”

The Journal’s management plans to get rid of both union and non-union jobs across the company, and Hill said they are “probably looking for more [cuts] from editorial than advertising.” The news was first reported on Twitter by Mike Stanton, who retired recently as The Journal’s chief investigative reporter.

(more…)


Murdoch sells Standard-Times; GateHouse to manage it

September 3rd, 2013 at 6:31 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) – Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has sold its Dow Jones Local Media Group – which owns 33 publications including the New Bedford Standard-Times, the Cape Cod Times and The Inquirer and Mirror of Nantucket – and handed over their management to GateHouse Media Inc.

Read the rest of this story »


Watch Newsmakers: Jorge Elorza; Mike Stanton

September 1st, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site


Spring ad sales down 14% at Projo; CEO blames RI malaise

July 30th, 2013 at 3:31 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Projo_ad_sales_2Q2013The Providence Journal’s advertising sales dropped again this past spring, as Rhode Island’s statewide daily continued to wrestle with a changing media landscape and a weak local economy.

The Journal’s advertising revenue was down 14% between April 1 and June 30 compared with the same period in 2012, parent company A.H. Belo disclosed in an SEC filing. Quarterly ad sales fell to $10.3 million, or $1.7 million below last year’s level.

Total second-quarter revenue at The Journal from all sources was down 8% from 2012, falling to $22.1 million. Circulation revenue fell 2% to $8.5 million. Printing and distribution contracts, which had been offsetting ad losses, fell 2% to $3.3 million.

Asked Monday on an investor call to give an overview of the situation, A.H. Belo CEO Robert Decherd was blunt: “There’s really not much good news in the Rhode Island economy right now.”

(more…)


Advertising sales down 15% at Projo during first quarter

May 6th, 2013 at 9:53 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Projo_ad_sales_1Q2013The Providence Journal’s advertising sales dropped again during the first three months of this year, as Rhode Island’s statewide daily newspaper reported losses in nearly every type of notice.

The Journal’s advertising revenue was down 15% between Jan. 1 and March 31 compared with the same period in 2012, parent company A.H. Belo disclosed in an SEC filing. Quarterly ad sales fell to $9.6 million, or $1.7 million below last year’s level.

Total first-quarter revenue at The Journal from all sources was down 9% from 2012, falling to $20.6 million, thanks to a 10% increase in its contracts to print and distribute other newspapers. Circulation revenue fell 7% to $8 million.

“In Providence we got off to a bumpy start for a variety of reasons,” A.H. Belo CEO Robert Decherd told investors in a conference call last week. He said some of The Journal’s promotional plans for the start of the year were hamstrung by the winter storms that hit Rhode Island.

(more…)


Projo’s Sunday circulation slumps 10%; owner loses $8M

April 30th, 2013 at 8:41 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Projo_Sunday_circ_3-31-2013The Providence Journal’s Sunday print circulation fell 10% during the six months ended March 31, figures released Tuesday showed, as the newspaper’s parent company reported a first-quarter loss of $8 million.

The Journal’s print circulation on Sundays – the most lucrative edition of the week for most papers – totaled 109,516 copies, down by 12,763 since March 2012, the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations) reported Tuesday morning.

The Projo sold an average of 79,244 traditional print editions on weekdays between Oct. 1 and March 31, a decrease of 6,252 from a year earlier and 45% fewer than in September 2007.

Saturday circulation dipped below 100,000 for the first time, falling by 10,484 to 98,651. Weekday circulation fell below 100,000 for the first time in 2010. The overall pace of circulation loss has slowed since 2009-10, when the annual rate of decline on Sundays peaked at 17%.

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Projo parent company’s top four execs share $1.7M in bonuses

April 2nd, 2013 at 11:32 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Robert Decherd

Robert Decherd

The Providence Journal’s parent company gave its top executives pay raises and $1.7 million in bonuses in 2012 as they eked out an annual profit for the first time.

A.H. Belo awarded CEO Robert Decherd $1.9 million in 2012, up from $1.6 million in 2011 and $499,180 in 2009, according to a Securities & Exchange Commission filing.

Decherd’s compensation included a $567,692 salary, bumped up from $480,000 in 2011; $705,678 in cash bonuses; $487,500 in stock awards; and $127,139 in other benefits, including $7,920 for life insurance. Decherd is also A.H. Belo’s chairman and president.

In addition, the Dallas-based company said it paid Executive Vice President James Moroney $1.4 million in 2012, up from $1.1 million in 2011; Chief Financial Officer Alison Engel $805,490, up from $626,091; and Senior Vice President Daniel Blizzard $557,672, up from $424,991. Former executive John McKeon received $272,286 before his departure last April.

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Projo revenue nearly steady in 2012, but ad sales are down 66%

March 12th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Projo_annual_revenue_2005_2012

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Journal’s revenue losses nearly stopped in 2012 as significant growth in the company’s contracts for printing and distribution helped offset dwindling advertising and declining circulation.

The Journal’s revenue totaled $93.8 million in 2012, according to an SEC filing by its parent company A.H. Belo. The 1.4% decrease compared with 2011 was the newspaper’s smallest in at least eight years. Total Journal revenue has plummeted 43% since 2005, when the paper pulled in $165.6 million.

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Projo lays off 23 as ad sales drop 13%; CEO remains gloomy

November 8th, 2012 at 12:38 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The Providence Journal laid off at least 23 of its roughly 460 employees this week as the paper struggles to stop a continuing decline in its circulation numbers and advertising sales.

The Journal said on its website 23 full-time workers lost their jobs Wednesday on top of the 11 who accepted a voluntary buyout in September. No reporters or columnists were laid off, and the paper said the cuts would have “minimal impact” on its news coverage. Three photographers reportedly lost their jobs.

Separately, Journal parent company A.H. Belo disclosed that the Providence paper’s total advertising revenue fell 13% compared with last year during the three months ended Sept. 30, to $10.5 million. The paper’s overall revenue rose 0.7% to $23 million as circulation and printing/distribution sales improved.

A.H. Belo CEO Robert Decherd told investors the Dallas-based company’s revenue picture worsened in October. “It’s been a little bit choppier in October and I couldn’t begin to tell you what will happen in November,” he said last week. “We’re definitely seeing a softer market in all three [A.H. Belo] markets – well, Providence and Dallas; Riverside is holding its own.”

(more…)


Read a roundtable on the future of journalism in Rhode Island

November 2nd, 2012 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

(Re-upping this in case you missed it during Sandy. -TN.)

Providence Monthly had a fun idea for its November edition – get a bunch of Rhode Island journalists together to talk shop and discuss where we think the battered media industry is going next.

The roundtable was earlier this month, and it was interesting to hear where all of us agree, disagree and aren’t sure. The group Providence Monthly brought together was Tim White and me (WPRI), Ian Donnis (RIPR), Erika Niedowski (AP), Dan McGowan (GoLocal), Tim Murphy (Projo) and Dave Scharfenberg (Phoenix).

The full conversation is here in five parts. A sample:

John T: We have seven reporters seated at the table and only one representing a print daily, which is quite a change from if we had had this conversation ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. What is the changing nature of this profession as the era of the traditional beat reporter gives way to this new media landscape? What does the beat reporter of the future look like? Who does the next generation’s Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein work for?

Ted N: I think it’s interesting, because we’re at a time where you can jump in in different ways. My job was just an experiment by Channel 12. They never would have had a writer when it was just a TV station; there was nowhere to put the writing. Now everyone has a website. Erika’s stuff used to be primarily available inside a newsroom until it got into a paper. Now the AP has a mobile site. I don’t like to make predictions anymore – not that I ever did and I haven’t been in it that long – but I never predict where it’s all going. I think a lot of it is just trying to keep an eye on where things are moving and sort of get there along with the readers – not wait until you realize that people have migrated, and then you’re left behind. You’re not in the place where people want to be. But hopefully the standards can remain the same.


Projo’s print circulation down another 7%; e-editions at 4,224

October 30th, 2012 at 12:26 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The Providence Journal’s print circulation fell 7% during the six months ended Sept. 30 as subscriptions to its new electronic edition rose past 4,000.

The Journal sold an average of 83,733 traditional print copies on weekdays between April 1 and Sept. 30, a decrease of 6,352 from the same period a year earlier, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported Tuesday.

The Journal said its total average weekly circulation was 114,303 when “branded editions” are included, which would include its free ProjoExpress publication. The Audit Bureau changed its rules in 2011 to count those.

The Projo’s print circulation on Sundays – the most lucrative edition of the week for most papers – totaled 117,784 copies, a drop of 11,240 since the September 2011 report. Saturday circulation fell by 9,117 copies, from 115,892 to 106,775.

ProvidenceJournal.com had 1.2 million unique visitors as of March 31, up from 868,693 in the six months ended March 31 and matching the audience for the old Projo.com a year ago, the Audit Bureau said.

The Journal reported 4,224 subscriptions to its e-edition, broken out as 1,398 on weekdays, 1,411 on Saturdays and 1,415 on Sundays.

(more…)


Read a roundtable on the future of journalism in Rhode Island

October 30th, 2012 at 12:01 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Providence Monthly had a fun idea for its November edition – get a bunch of Rhode Island journalists together to talk shop and discuss where we think the battered media industry is going next.

The roundtable was earlier this month, and it was interesting to hear where all of us agree, disagree and aren’t sure. The group Providence Monthly brought together was Tim White and me (WPRI), Ian Donnis (RIPR), Erika Niedowski (AP), Dan McGowan (GoLocal), Tim Murphy (Projo) and Dave Scharfenberg (Phoenix).

Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. A sample:

John T: We have seven reporters seated at the table and only one representing a print daily, which is quite a change from if we had had this conversation ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. What is the changing nature of this profession as the era of the traditional beat reporter gives way to this new media landscape? What does the beat reporter of the future look like? Who does the next generation’s Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein work for?

Ted N: I think it’s interesting, because we’re at a time where you can jump in in different ways. My job was just an experiment by Channel 12. They never would have had a writer when it was just a TV station; there was nowhere to put the writing. Now everyone has a website. Erika’s stuff used to be primarily available inside a newsroom until it got into a paper. Now the AP has a mobile site. I don’t like to make predictions anymore – not that I ever did and I haven’t been in it that long – but I never predict where it’s all going. I think a lot of it is just trying to keep an eye on where things are moving and sort of get there along with the readers – not wait until you realize that people have migrated, and then you’re left behind. You’re not in the place where people want to be. But hopefully the standards can remain the same.


Batson out, Boucher in as Southern RI Newspapers publisher

October 1st, 2012 at 11:58 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

One of Rhode Island’s largest newspaper chains is under new leadership.

WPRI.com has confirmed Jody Boucher replaced Nanci Batson on Monday as publisher of Rhode Island Media Group’s Southern Rhode Island Newspapers division, which includes nine daily and weekly newspapers in Rhode Island including the Kent County Daily Times.

Boucher has been the group’s advertising director for seven years. “Jody has a number of years of solid newspaper, print publication, and media industry leadership and experience, [and] her appointment to the position of publisher of our southern group of newspapers is a positive step for all of the communities our newspapers serve,” Melanie Radler, Rhode Island Media Group’s president, said in a statement.

Boucher described herself as “very excited” about the new job. “Our position in our markets is definitely positive as we continue to be the dominant news source for our communities,” she said in an email. Boucher’s previous experience includes two stints in the Chicago Sun-Times’ advertising department.

Rhode Island Media Group is the operating name of Marion, Ill.-based R.I.S.N. Operations Inc., which paid $7.6 million in 2007 to buy the Woonsocket Call, the Pawtucket Times and Wakefield-basked Southern Rhode Island Newspapers from the Journal Register Co. R.I.S.N. stands for Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers.

• Related: Seven employees laid off at Kent Co. Daily Times, sister papers (March 13)


Projo’s finances stabilizing; new contracts offset $3M ad loss

August 2nd, 2012 at 3:05 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A growing number of contracts for printing and distribution gave The Providence Journal a slight bump in revenue during the first half of this year despite a deep drop in springtime advertising revenue.

The Journal’s total revenue rose to $46.7 million during the six months of 2012, an increase of $597,000 or 1.3% compared with the first half of last year, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week by its parent company A.H. Belo.

The share of total Journal revenue that came from advertising fell below 50%, a symbolically important milestone in light of newspapers’ historic reliance on advertisements to pay the newsroom’s bills. Printing and distribution contracts’ share of revenue jumped to 13% and circulation accounted for 37%.

The Journal is one of many papers with a changing revenue mix, said Ken Doctor, a media analyst with Outsell. “All are seeing rapidly increasing percentile contributions from circulation – or what we should call reader revenue,” he told WPRI.com. “Projo is at the leading edge of change, probably due more to ad decline than [its] digital circulation program.”

(more…)


Projo’s revenue grows, thanks to contracts offsetting lost ads

May 8th, 2012 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Journal’s finances brightened during the first three months of this year, as the paper used higher circulation revenue and more third-party printing work to offset another sharp drop in advertising.

The Journal’s revenue totaled $22.7 million in the three months ended March 31, up 3% from $22 million in the same period last year, according to a regulatory filing. That performance helped offset weakness elsewhere within its Dallas-based parent A. H. Belo, which said companywide revenue slid 7% in the first quarter.

The Journal’s first-quarter contract work nearly doubled to $2.8 million year-over-year as the paper distributed more national and local newspapers and landed new commercial printing jobs. The paper’s circulation revenue also posted a healthy gain of nearly 6%, rising to $8.6 million.

Advertising is no longer the bedrock of The Journal’s business that it once was, contributing only 49.5% of total revenue in the first quarter. Ad sales through March 31 fell to $11.2 million, down nearly 10% from a year earlier, with declines in all categories. Digital advertising on ProvidenceJournal.com slipped 7% to $1.5 million compared with 2011.

(more…)


Projo’s print circulation down another 7%; fewer visit website

May 1st, 2012 at 8:55 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The Providence Journal’s print circulation fell almost 7% during the six months ended March 31 as it sold fewer than 300 subscriptions to its new electronic edition.

The Journal sold an average of 85,496 traditional print copies on weekdays between Oct. 1 and March 31, a decrease of 6,311 from the same period a year earlier, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported Tuesday.

The Journal said its total average weekly circulation was 114,013 when “branded editions” are included, which would include its free ProjoExpress publication. The Audit Bureau changed its rules in 2011 to count those.

The Projo’s print circulation on Sundays - the most lucrative edition of the week for most papers – totaled 122,279 copies, a drop of 8,380 since the March 2011 report. Saturday circulation fell by 7,676 copies, from 116,811 to 109,135.

ProvidenceJournal.com had 868,693 unique visitors as of March 31, down from 1.2 million for the old Projo.com in the six months ended Sept. 30, the Audit Bureau said. That echoes other estimates showing traffic down by about a third.

(more…)


Projo parent AH Belo cuts CEO Decherd’s pay 14% to $1.6M

April 18th, 2012 at 2:22 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The Providence Journal’s parent company, A.H. Belo, shaved its top executives’ compensation in 2011 after more than doubling their pay in 2010, according to a Securities & Exchange Commission filing.

A.H. Belo awarded CEO Robert Decherd $1.6 million last year, down 14% from $1.9 million in 2010, and up 222% from $499,180 in 2009, the filing said.

Decherd’s pay included a $480,000 salary, $899,997 in stock awards, a $168,474 cash bonus and $61,441 in other benefits. Decherd’s salary rose to $600,000 a year effective this month, a separate filing said.

The Dallas-based company awarded Executive Vice President James Moroney $1.1 million in 2011, down from $1.3 million in 2010; Chief Financial Officer Alison Engel $626,091, down from $800,001; Senior Vice President Daniel Blizzard $424,991, down from $575,000; and departing executive John McKeon $891,788, down from $1.3 million. The first three executives’  base salaries also increased this month.

A.H. Belo posted a net loss of $10.9 million in 2011, compared with a net loss of $124.2 million in 2010, as revenue fell 5% to $461.5 million. The company’s stock is down almost 3% this year based on Tuesday’s closing price of $4.62 a share, after declining 45% in 2011.

• Related: Projo parent AH Belo’s board awards big raises to top bosses (March 20)

(chart: DailyFinance)


Bakst: ‘Extremely rare’ to hold a campaign kickoff with no Q&A

April 17th, 2012 at 11:05 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

There was some debate on Monday about whether Democrat Anthony Gemma had made an unusual choice in refusing to answer questions from reporters at his campaign announcement on Sunday, so I put the question to retired Projo columnist M. Charles Bakst, who’s seen his fair share of political kickoffs:

I would call it extremely rare for a kickoff. I do remember that heading into the 1990 Democratic primary for governor, Providence Mayor Joe Paolino announced in a paid TV commercial, but, even so, he made himself available that day (or night) for press questioning. The point is that kickoffs (breakfasts, rallies, news conferences, etc.) are almost always moments of great promise and good cheer; the candidate projects confidence and indeed hungers for and savors every opportunity he or she can get for publicity for the announcement.

This is a contrast to a very different kind of event you sometimes encounter in politics: when an officeholder or candidate is under pressure or lacks confidence or, certainly, wants to keep tight control of the message. In such cases, he or she will make a statement and then either walk out or simply refuse to respond directly to questions. For example, a candidate under fire in a combative race may hold a news conference on a position paper – say, job development. But reporters – possibly because the candidate can’t intelligently discuss the topic at hand – may instead start asking about an attack ad the guy is airing. And the candidate might then say, “We’re not here to talk about that.”

Bakst noted that another candidate launched a 1990 campaign in a low-key fashion – Republican hopeful Trudy Coxe, who lost a U.S. House race to Jack Reed. She “issued a statement and spoke with reporters at her home in Cranston’s Edgewood neighborhood,” Scott MacKay reported in the Projo on March 20, 1990.

(photo: Projo.com)


Taveras slams GoLocalProv in letter to Providence pensioners

April 11th, 2012 at 12:10 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The Taveras administration is escalating its attack on startup news site GoLocalProv, with the mayor describing the outlet as “unethical” in a letter mailed to thousands of Providence retirees late last month.

In March, the mayor’s staff inadvertantly released a PDF document containing nearly 3,000 city retirees’ Social Security numbers in response to a public records request by GoLo. The city says the numbers were blacked out, but GoLo said it was able to change the color back and display the Social Security data.

“As you may have read, the online journal that filed the public information request admitted in court to taking measures to manipulate those materials,” Mayor Angel Taveras wrote retirees in a March 28 letter that did not use GoLocalProv’s name. “Through that manipulation, they exposed retirees’ Social Security numbers.”

Josh Fenton, GoLo’s founder and a former city councilman, told WPRI.com city officials went to court after his staff informed them about the disclosure, in an effort “to block us from reporting that they had released the information. The judge rejected their request to cover up their error.” GoLo published a story the next day.

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Rhode Island has lost one of its finest reporters, Peter Lord

April 5th, 2012 at 11:29 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Peter Lord, The Providence Journal’s longtime environmental reporter, passed away Wednesday at the age of 60, after a long battle with brain cancer. The tributes have been pouring in from all corners ever since the sad news emerged.

“Peter Lord was a first-class journalist and first-class person, with a fiery, old-fashioned passion for reporting and for enlightening the public, especially about the environment,” retired Journal columnist M. Charles Bakst told me in an email last night.

“Ideally, all of us should be stewards of the earth, but in my view Peter considered it his direct, personal responsibility,” Charlie said. “His career and his decency will continue to inspire all who knew him.”

While I would never claim Pete and I were close friends, I’d like to share my own small story that helps explain why so many of us are remembering him today as a wonderful man and a generous mentor.

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Projo parent AH Belo’s board awards big raises to top bosses

March 20th, 2012 at 3:26 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Top executives at The Providence Journal’s parent company, A.H. Belo, are getting big pay raises despite a 45% decline in the publisher’s stock price during 2011, the fourth straight year it lost money.

The compensation committee of A.H. Belo’s board of directors awarded the largest increase to CEO Robert Decherd. His annual base salary will jump 25% to $600,000 in April, the Dallas-based company said in an SEC filing. Decherd is chairman of the board.

In addition, A.H. Belo said Dallas Morning News publisher Jim Moroney’s base salary will increase 15.5% to $540,000; Chief Financial Officer Alison Engel’s will increase 8.3% to $325,000; and senior vice president Daniel Blizzard’s will increase 12% to $280,000. Their total compensation for 2011 will be reported later this spring.

John Hill, president of the Providence Newspaper Guild union, said the four executives “should be ashamed of themselves” for taking more money less than a year after laying off and buying out Journal staffers. The paper’s work force fell by a third between 2008 and 2011. The Guild signed a new contract in February 2011.

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