What is going on with the Sun Herald? A Microcosm of the impacts of too much leverage in a declining industry

Over the past 6 weeks or so I’ve been asked by numerous folks what is going on at the Sun Herald and besides another layoff to go with the one earlier this year the answer is not much.  The complaints I’ve heard from older readers that grew up reading the daily newspaper do not seem very encouraging.

I had a chance recently to spend a few minutes chatting with a member of the media, who told me about canceling their Sun Herald subscription because it had become so expensive while the content of the newspaper seems less and less.  This was a productive exchange of information because I found out that those who canceled are offered far better renewal rates to come back on board.

Not two days after I spoke with a nice lady in her late 70s who volunteered to me she too had just canceled her subscription because of the combination of price and lack of content.  I assured the lady she would be getting a phone call to renew her subscription at a discounted rate, which I later confirmed did happen.  The telemarketer promised this person that with the new Publisher in place content would be increasing.  I took that promise as long term counterproductive sales puffery because it takes people to generate content and the paper isn’t expanding its workforce, the opposite is true. The next time the lady cancels, getting her back will not be nearly so easy.

To be clear, the Sun Herald is not completely devoid of  talent. Anita Lee is still around as is Karen Nelson, Robin Fitzgerald and Margaret Baker. The sports department was cut earlier this year with Patrick Ochs ultimately leaving for sports Coms at PRCC leaving Patrick Magee as a one man sports band.  The coverage of local high school sports has suffered as a result.  For example WXXV did profiles of the coast football teams this past July/August, something the Sun Herald used to roll out in a special section. Cutting sports is huge in my mind because the sports section is typically the most trafficked part of online news sites, so I am not sure what McClatchy accomplished there cutting the second sports reporter. Continue reading “What is going on with the Sun Herald? A Microcosm of the impacts of too much leverage in a declining industry”