Levine's Exit and More On Newspaper Circulation Plummet

Sun-Sentinel senior vice president Jeff Levine, who oversaw both marketing and online content, is leaving the newspaper to become the "Director of Content" at the Hartford Courant, a sister Tribune publication. Publisher Howard Greenberg, whose memo on the matter is reproduced in full after the jump, also promoted Julie Anderson from "VP of Content Integration" to "VP of Content," which I assume means she basically filling half of Levine's old role. Greenberg is apparently taking on his marketing duties.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

I tell you, one good sign that the newspaper business is going to hell in a handbasket are these new bureaucratic, uber-corporate titles. Newspapers used to be good at simple titles like "city editor."

Anyway, those circulation numbers were horrendous. In addition to the Miami Herald's 16 percent decline (to a meager 202,000), the Sun-Sentinel dropped a cool 10 percent (dipping below 200,000) and the Palm Beach Post fell 13 percent (about 143,000) on daily circulation numbers. As one astute commenter in the post below noted, that means about 50,000 readers in South Florida recently threw in the towel on newspapers.

Here's what one local newsroomer wrote me about those "stunning" numbers:    

--The loss is particularly staggering when you consider this is the Sept 30-March 30 report, the traditional heavier snowbird season when papers' circs in south fla. were generally 10 percent higher than the March-September period...
--We put everything now on the Internet about 10 minutes after we file and are edited, so now readers can get major components of Sunday's newspaper online for free on Friday afternoon...
--Today's paper was 48 pages (about half ads/classified)...why would anyone pay 75 cents a day for that (which is what we've raised daily price to) when there's much more extensive coverage (more and longer stories, plus blogs) for free online...When it come to print, we charge more for less. What business can thrive or survive on that model?
--The only paper that has done a decent job of stanching the bloodletting is St. Pete, which still puts a premium on quality reporting, writing and editing (i.e., respecting "readers," which is what a newspaper should be doing, not dumbing down and tarting up). But then I see what's happened to Miami Herald, which has tried to do the same and their numbers are worse than ours (I can't believe our Sunday paper is now bigger than theirs)...Maybe St. Pete is just an anomaly because of its elderly white-bread English-speaking population.
Bottom line: We're all screwed. But we've known that for some time. Time to go from denial/anger to acceptance. And perhaps to law school, too. 

Click below for Greenberg's memo.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

To: Sun Sentinel Company and WSFL-TV employees

From: Howard Greenberg

RE: Jeff Levine named Hartford SVP, Director of Content

As we work to change our business model and build the newsrooms of the future, it is with mixed emotions, I announce VP of Marketing and Online Content for Florida Jeff Levine has been named the Hartford SVP, Director of Content effective immediately. In his new role, Jeff will oversee content for Hartford's newspaper, digital products and the TV news organization, significantly extending the reach of Hartford's news and information. Over the past ten years, Jeff has played a leadership role in numerous audience development initiatives for Tribune Company and led outstanding teams in marketing and online. In the past year, Jeff has overseen content for our Florida Web sites, leading to record-setting page view and unique visitor growth. He's worked closely with SVP Editor Earl Maucker on newsroom reorganization and helped develop the TV station Web site and morning show. While we will miss him, I'm confident that Jeff's exceptional leadership skills and valuable experience will serve him well. As part of the newsroom and online integration initiatives, I am also very pleased to announce, VP of Content Integration Julie Anderson has been named VP of Content for T-6 effective today. Julie will work closely with the local online teams to grow our online audiences using the latest strategies, tactics and technologies. Online Editor Joe Schwerdt will dual-report to Julie and Sun Sentinel SVP, Editor Earl Maucker. Online Product Development Manager Bonnie Gross will also report to Julie. While we search for his replacement, Jeff's Sun Sentinel Marketing direct reports will temporarily report to me, and SFL-TV On-Air Manager Felicia Blanski will temporarily report to EVP of Tribune Publishing Bob Gremillion. Please join me in congratulating Jeff and Julie. Big things are ahead for the both of them and our company.

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