The Oregonian currently delivers to 170,000 homes daily and sells 15,000 papers a day at newsstands, said Kevin Denny, the paper's vice president of operations and circulation. The Oregonian prints 263,000 Sunday editions with 30,000 of those sold at newsstands.The home delivery change should result in a 90% drop in sales income three days of the week since the Monday, Tuesday and Thursday editions would result in a fractional 15,000 papers sold on those days rather than the normal 185,000.*
Publisher N. Christian Anderson III has pointed to a savings in home delivery costs as part of the limited home delivery strategy.
PBJ: If the newspaper isn't delivered daily, why not stop printing daily?But, the question remains whether dropping 90% of sales on the non-home delivery days will not cancel out any positive effects of delivery savings--not to mention that 10% in newsstand sales does not seem to be a particularly large single-copy audience.
Anderson: We still have a large single-copy audience and wish to continue to serve that audience without the expense of home delivery on those three days.
Before the home delivery changes, the Oregonian employed 650 people.
Anderson declined to say how many of The Oregonian's 650 employees would lose their jobs in coming months. Editor and Vice President Peter Bhatia told newsroom employees that the reductions would be "significant." But he said there would be new hiring as well.Willamette Week has counted up 95 people who have been laid off so far--about 15% of Oregonian employees. The newsroom was taking the biggest hit losing a quarter of its staff.
UPDATE, 7 pm: Sources tell WW that The Oregonian has laid off about 95 employees in the last two days—at least 45 in the editorial department. That number, which is reportedly near final, would represent one quarter of a 175-person newsroom.Despite this 15% to 25% loss in staff, Anderson has promised "enhanced" editions for the Wednesday, Friday and Sunday home delivery newspapers.
The Oregonian will continue to be published daily and sold at outlets in the Portland metropolitan area and elsewhere in the state and southwestern Washington. Home delivery will be Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and include the Saturday edition as a bonus. The Wednesday, Friday and Sunday editions will be enhanced with more content than current editions while the Saturday newspaper will have news and a strong emphasis on sports content, along with classified advertising. Those home delivery subscribers that choose the three-day subscription option will also have access to a digital edition seven days a week. Subscribers will be informed of the new rates in early August.Anderson has not explained how the Oregonian will be able to maintain its current seven day print publishing schedule (though with only a 10% print run three of the days) and enhance and expand the edition on three of those days in light of the 25% cut in newsroom staff.
A sales strategy that includes a 90% drop in sales three days a week, no matter how much is saved in delivery costs, and a 25% cut in newsroom staff as precursor to enhancing and expanding the newspaper do not seem to promise success. How Advance Publications, Inc. (owner of the Oregonian) has penciled this out as a winning strategy is anyone's guess.
*The Alliance for Audited Media data for March, 2013, has Oregonian daily circulation at about 229,000 and Sunday circulation at about 304,000. Some of the difference could be due to Oregonian digital circulation, which might account for the 10,000 difference in the Sunday figure. But, the 45,000 difference in the daily figure can hardly be due to digital subscriptions.