Star is doing just fine....

Dateline: Tue 28 Apr 2009

The Indianapolis Star's business section has a story this morning, "Newspaper Circulation Slips," with up-to-date circ figures (232,381 Monday-Friday, down 9 percent; 201,797 Saturday, down 7.4 percent; and 311,322 Sunday, down 4 percent.

Despite these dips (attributed to readers' preference for the web) The Star continues to fare very well, according to Scarborough research, says today's report. "The Star fares better than the national average with 80 percent of area adults reading the Star or one of its digital products each week; the national average is ....75 percent."

To confirm that news, publisher Michael Kane sent out the following email:

"April 17, 2009

TO: Star Employees

FR: Michael G. Kane

RE: All Employee Meetings Follow-Up

I wanted to send a quick note to all employees as a follow-up to our employee meetings a few weeks ago. Many of you have read the postings or articles (including in this morning's Star) regarding Gannett's 1st quarter earnings. I want to point out a few additional details regarding the earnings report.

First of all, Gannett made more than $77 million in the quarter. While that is a 60 percent decrease from the same quarter a year ago, it did exceed expectations on Wall Street. We are better positioned than many media companies at present. Gannett has successfully restructured its debt obligations and managed the expense side of the business, which has allowed the company to remain profitable even during the worst economic downturn in about eight decades.

While Star Media has seen similar economic impact on our local business, we were able to fare better than the company as a whole. As I mentioned at the employee meetings, Star Media continues to grow its audience reach across all platforms. We will continue to do so as we stay close to our customers. We will keep you posted on our 2nd quarter initiatives.

On Sunday, you will see my column introducing our new mission statement and core values to readers. It is intended as a commitment and reassurance to all of our customers -- and you -- that The Indianapolis Star is going to be serving this community for long, long time.

I am always available to address any questions or concerns you may have.

I very much appreciate your extraordinary efforts during these times. Be confident in our future! I am looking forward to sharing better times ahead.

Michael"

There are lots of ways to skin this cat. One approach is to remind readers that sources for this blog have said the Star is a top performer in the Gannett chain. We all celebrate the newspaper's success, although we still have to ask, at times, at what price?

There may be two factors at work here: Gannett will always make money -- it's what Gannett does. Secondly, as a friend notes, "For years, the Star was spread-eagle over central Indiana." Or as former exec editor Frank Caperton used to observe, of the Star's penetration during the 1990s, "Other newspapers would kill to get those numbers" (about 79 penetration, as i recall).

Midwesterners are loyal and conservative. That we should be loyal to the newspaper is a good thing.

Still, with Gannett running the show, one can't relax and enjoy; something is always brewing, and I trust them to continue to ruin what is a good and worthy endeavor.

Time will tell.

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