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To cut costs, newspapers have reduced the size of their pages and the size of their staffs. Next, they'll be dropping their Monday editions, as some already have. Here's why Monday is on the chopping block:
Publishers hate it: Because it's a money-losing edition.
Readers hate it: There's so little to it – giving lie to the notion that you can't be too thin.
Advertisers hate it: If they loved it, they'd advertise in it.
Editors hate it: No local news of any consequence happens on Sunday, so there's nothing but wire to put in it.
Reporters hate it: Who wants to work on Sunday?
Yes, Monday editions will be going the way of all things – even though it's a terrible mistake for newspapers to make. Here's why:
One of the biggest drivers of daily newspaper readership is habit. And fortunately for newspapers, habits are hard to break. Newspapers would be penny-wise and pound-foolish to interrupt this daily ritual of millions of Americans. Dropping Monday will only give subscribers yet another reason to drop their weekly subscription all together.
But the Monday edition needn't go the way of your Washington bureau. Because there's another way for newspapers to cut back without cutting off their noses. They need only look back 24 hours to find the resources they need to keep their Monday editions afloat.
Newspapers need to take a hard look at their Sunday papers, where they'll find tremendous resources that go to waste every week.
Any editor will tell you that Sunday is "different," but he or she will be hard-pressed to tell you how. They'll claim that people have more time to read on Sunday, but with church, soccer, trips to Home Depot, the NFL – they can't have enough time to read every page of the five-pound behemoth that appears once a week. Logic dictates that much of it must go unread.
If readers do make more time for the Sunday paper, it probably isn't for the content. Our research shows that free-standing advertising inserts from Target, Best Buy, Walgreens, et. al. are the number-one reason people look at the Sunday paper.
If you don't agree, consider this:
How many complaints would your newspaper get if a major enterprise story failed to appear on Sunday's front page?
How many complaints would your newspaper get if the free-standing inserts failed to appear inside on Sunday?
If readers give the daily paper 15 minutes, and 25 minutes on Sunday, then maybe a daily-sized edition and the FSIs are all they have time for on Sunday. Maybe newspapers have made Sunday too much of a good thing.
Where is it written that the Sunday paper should have more sections than the other daily editions? If newspapers want to preserve and nurture the daily reading habit with a Monday edition, then they need to take a serious look at Sunday to see what can be eliminated.
Perspective, Focus, Insight, Outlook, etc. – newspapers should sacrifice these sections to save their Monday editions because most readers don't value these so-called value-added sections as much as newspapers think they do.
Sections that aren't supported by advertising need to go because advertisers don't believe anyone reads them – probably for good reason.
Poster pages make great posters, but not great reading. And they burn up lots of newsprint.
Long Op-Ed pieces satisfy some readers, but most readers don't have time for them.
Granted, newspapers can't throw out the baby with the bath water – weddings, engagements, honor rolls, pet of the week, or any other weekly features that readers love, must be preserved. But the six-column photo and the 70-inch story by the reporter who visited Honduras is not essential. Eliminating it will pay for a full page in Monday's paper, and free up an editor and a reporter.
Here's the bottom line: Cutting back on Sunday may produce complaints, but not as many as cutting Monday entirely.
It comes down to people and paper. It takes too many people to produce the Sunday paper and it takes too much paper to print what they produce. Cut back on both and newspapers will have what they need to produce a Monday paper with the savings – and continue to publish every day, which will give new meaning to "Sunday for Monday."
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