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  • Tonawanda News to fold in January

    The Buffalo News | The Tonawanda News

    Twenty employees at the Tonawanda News will lose their jobs in January after the paper closes, the Buffalo News reported Thursday.

    The Tonawanda News, a 134-year-old newspaper serving north suburban Buffalo, is closing after revenue from advertising and circulation failed to keep pace with expenses, the paper reports.

    The paper belongs to the Greater Niagara Newspapers group, which includes two other papers in the region: the Niagara Gazette and the Lockport Union-Sun and Journal, according to The Tonawanda News. Neither paper is closing.

    Read more
  • Only 1 in 5 college newspapers updates its website daily

    College Media Matters | Student Media Map

    Just 21 percent of student newspapers at public, four-year universities update their websites five days a week, according to an interactive tool launched Thursday.

    Student Media Map, a project by University of Texas senior Bobby Blanchard, compares rates of online publishing at student newspapers nationwide, Dan Reimold writes for College Media Matters.

    The map works by mining RSS feeds at 485 student newspapers throughout the United States and representing each with a colored dot based on their publishing frequency. A green dot means the site is updated at least five times per week, purple means the site is updated less frequently and red indicates the university does not have a newspaper. Private universities and some colleges in New York are missing from the map.

    The project shows that publishing frequency tends to skew in favor of larger schools — only 4 percent of newspapers at universities with fewer than 10,000 students enrolled published content five-days a week, compared to 81 percent of student newspapers at universities with between 40,000 and 50,000 students.

    The idea for the project came from a conversation that arose when the student newspaper at The University of Texas, The Daily Texan, was faced with reductions to its print frequency, Blanchard told Reimold. The newspaper vowed to maintain a steady flow of copy to its website, which made Blanchard wonder: how many papers did the same?

    You can check the map out for yourself here.

    Read more
  • 9 takeways from the New York Times Co. 3rd quarter earnings call
    The New York Times building in this 2009 file photo. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    The New York Times building in this 2009 file photo. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    The New York Times Co. joined McClatchy yesterday in booking a rare operating loss for the third quarter, $9 million or about 2.5 percent on revenues of $364.7 million.

    But the many moving parts of the Times digital transformation effort had a number of positives mixed in as well. Here are nine takeaways:

    1. About that loss. It was driven by high costs associated with staff reductions ($20 million) and investment in new products. The first will be a one-time blip. But the Times will be launching and relaunching new digital versions for some time to come. Each is expensive to develop and market, and significant new revenues may be slow in coming.
    2. Equilibrium in ad and circulation revenues. A 17 percent year-to-year gain in digital advertising for the quarter roughly offset a 5 percent decline in print. Similarly revenue from a net gain of 44,000 digital-only subscribers offset revenue losses for print and print-digital subscriptions. That’s an achievement. On the ad side, most of the industry is not yet growing digital and other revenue fast enough to cover print ad losses — and Times execs, in a conference call with analysts, concede that they don’t expect to do so again in the fourth quarter.
    3. Room to grow digital audience. The 44,000 quarter-to-quarter gain, the largest the company has recorded in several years, CEO Mark Thompson said, came mainly from new international customers and the “consumer education” sector (i.e. discounted subs to students). Thompson said that with improved marketing abroad he expects to continue growing that group of subscribers.
    4. Too expensive? The Times has raised print subscription prices this year, but the higher revenue per customer, chief financial officer James Follo said, was “outweighed by volume declines.” Daily print circulation was off 5.2 percent year-to-year and Sunday 3.2 percent. With the cost of a seven-day print subscription outside the New York metro area inching close to $1,000 a year, the Times may find renewals, new subscriptions (and newsstand copies) a tougher sell — especially as a range of much cheaper digital options are available.
    5. About those executive changes. Thompson had little to add to the announcement earlier this week that 26-year veteran Denise Warren was leaving the company after her chief digital officer job was split in two. But he did drop a hint, saying the Times would be looking for “an injection of specialized digital expertise.” Warren was an experienced and talented generalist who moved from overseeing advertising to the successful completion of the Times paywall strategy. But deeper digital roots may be needed in the executive suite for the next round of growth.
    6. Women in leadership. Warren’s is the third high-level executive departure in three years, following the firings of Thompson’s predecessor as CEO, Janet Robinson in December 2011, and Executive Editor Jill Abramson this May. The Times did add a woman in its top advertising job, hiring Meredith Kopit Levien away from Forbes in July 2013.
    7. Mobile advertising progress. Kopit Levien said mobile advertising is finally gaining some traction, accounting for about 10 percent of digital ad revenue. On the other hand it lags mobile audience which now accounts for more than 50 percent of the digital visits to Times’ sites and apps.
    8. Newsroom hiring. Thompson said he expected a modest wave of hiring following the well-publicized downsizing by 100 jobs. But as at many publications, the newly hired will have different job duties like audience development rather than traditional reporting and editing roles.
    9. Lower revenue per customer. Several questions and answers in the earnings conference call focused on so-called ARPU, jargon for average revenue per user (or unit). With the changing product mix, ARPU is falling at the Times, though Follo said by only about 5 percent year-to-year.

    That spotlights a huge financial challenge for the industry. As business moves down the price chain (both ads and circulation) from print to desktop/laptop to smartphone, a company can end up running fast just to stay even in revenues. And that’s likely to persist for years not just quarters.

    New York Times shares traded down about 5 percent at market close.

    Read more
Michael J. Connor, recipient of the Bliven-Ganley-Rossi Career Achievement award

Editors note: We are posting articles about the special club award winners honored May 5 at the annual SPC Awards dinner.

By Mike McAndrew

Michael J. Connor speaks with a fiery passion about the importance of watchdog journalism and the public’s thirst for local news.

But economic realities pinching all of Syracuse’s media organizations means there’s fewer boots on the ground and the city’s news is being covered less thoroughly now than 10 or 20 years ago, The Post-Standard’s executive editor said.

  “I can remember a time when all or most of the three network affiliates in broadcast TV had court reporters and municipal reporters. There was pretty fierce competition in government and institutional coverage. That’s gone away. Radio reporting is almost nonexistent,” he said. “There’s less competition. There’s just fewer reporters (in Syracuse) than there were at one time. That can’t help but reduce the amount of basic reporting and contextual reporting made available to residents of the area.”

 “If fewer institutions are being covered on a regular basis because you have a smaller total reporting staff in the community, at some point readers are missing something,” he said.
 Connor — who is being awarded the Gus Bliven-Joe Ganley-Mario Rossi Career Achievement Award by the Syracuse Press Club — has spent his entire 36-year journalism career at The Post-Standard.
 While a student at Cornell University, he decided to pursue a newspaper career after being inspired by a speech by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.

 Connor started out in 1976 as a bureau reporter based in Oneida. After working in a series of reporting and editing positions, he became the paper’s managing editor in 1983.
 Under Connor’s leadership, The Post-Standard in 1993 was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for explanatory journalism for a series of stories about poor medical care provided to inmates in state prisons. The prison series remains among Connor’s favorite stories published by the newspaper.

 That same year, Connor was named executive editor of The Post-Standard. When the morning paper merged in 1997 with The Herald-Journal, Connor became executive editor of the combined news operation.
 These days, the 59-year editor is overseeing the transformation of The Post-Standard from a newspaper into a news organization that delivers stories, photos, video and audio recordings to readers via the newspaper, syracuse.com, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets.

 “The Post-Standard is the best-read newspaper in America. Syracuse.com is one of the strongest newspaper websites in America. Why? Because of Mike Connor,” said Stephen A. Rogers, editor and publisher of The Post-Standard. “He built a great staff and pushed it to the top.”

 Connor has two sons, Jeff, 25, who is a musician, and Adam, 21, who graduates this month from the University of Vermont.

 Outside of the job, Connor spends his time biking 10 to 15 miles per day before work. On weekends, he sometimes takes 40-mile rides around Skaneateles Lake.

 He also volunteers Thursday nights at Matthew House, serving terminally-ill people at a hospice residence in Auburn.

 “It’s an extraordinary place of great peace, for families and individuals preparing for that transition, that next phase. It’s about as caring and loving a place as you can imagine,” he said.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 May 2012 02:03 )
 
 "Don’t be deluded into believing that the titular heads of the networks control what appears on their networks. They all have better taste."
--Edward R. Murrow

Wall of Distinction

Joseph V. Ganley

Herald-Journal
Herald American
Club President: 1951-52

   Joe Ganley's romance with newspapers started by chance while taking part in his other great love --- a round of golf. Joe was working as a caddy at Bellevue Country Club because he had been laid off from his job at a steel plant.

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