Over the last 12 years, I’ve been struggling to keep our school’s newspaper up and running. It has taken so many forms I’m not sure I can remember them all. We started off with a separate staff doing a 4 and then an 8 page monthly tab. We eventually got it up to a 12 page monthly tab. But lack of ads pushed us back to an every six-weeks tab.
Eventually we had to merge the newspaper staff with the yearbook staff, because of a lack of students signing up for newspaper.
Further lack of ads pushed it back to a 4 times per school year 12 page tab. And last year ad sales collapsed entirely. So, we have tried self publishing – which was horrible copy quality. And online PDF publishing.
If ad revenues stay flat, then we will stay a PDF document. But I have some hope for a new idea. This came from a post I read on the blog Inksniffer (http://blog.inksniffer.com/) about the LA Times. He thinks our problem is selling one newspaper to everyone. I think he is right. We need to divide our publication up into mini pubs. Sell advertising just for that section and focus on delivering quality content for that mini section.
We could have a sports only publication that comes out before each season with the schedules, rosters and a brief interview section with the coach/top players.
We could have a fine arts publication that focuses only on fine arts performances, etc.
We can have a Career & Technology publication that focuses on those programs.
A general publication can come out for Back To School, Homecoming and Prom.
This would help the news magazine focus on it’s core readers and possibly focus the writing a little more too.
Read Inksniffer’s post here http://blog.inksniffer.com/2007/06/01/.aspx and maybe it will help my post make more sense.