February 11, 2009

Our evil former owner keeps shutting down papers

The evil company that used to own The Bristol Press, whose name I won't ever mention again, is still closing paper after paper after paper, as this story summarizes.
What always irks me is that awful company's claims that it tried to sell the papers, including a 165-year-old Dutchess County, N.Y. weekly, but couldn't find a buyer.
I don't believe for one single second that it has ever made the slightest effort to sell any of its papers except for The Bristol Press, which only happened because of the fuss we managed to create and the appearance of Michael Schroeder to buy them.
To get a sense of how lucky we were, as best as I can tell our evil former owner has closed at least 60 newspapers in the past two months. The only ones that survived the chopping block are the two dailies and three weeklies that Schroeder bought.
One weekly in Pennsylvania was purchased by a competitor and promptly shut down, in what can only be described as a useless expenditure by the surviving paper there.
In any case, Schroeder remains unique in his willingness to take a chance, to put his money and his name on the line to give The Bristol Press and New Britain Herald the opportunity to live on.
I can't emphasize enough that if Bristol wants its paper to make it -- to come through this terrible time for journalism -- then people need to dig deep and subscribe, merchants heed to take out ads and people need to bring the paper back into their daily lives.
We got a second chance here. Let's not blow it.
We've traded in that evil company for a white knight, but he's only promising to give us the chance to save our paper. We still have to prove we can do it.
I don't ever want to see this paper vanish like so many others across this troubled land.

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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought Harry Potter killed Lord Voldemort.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

You've sung the praises of the new owner for a while. I agree, he is taking a risk and I applaud his willingness to do so and hope that he succeeds. And, yes, I agree that JRC sucks and they drove the BP into the ground.

But, I'm wondering if/when we can hear about what Shroeder's plans are for the BP. How will he change it? What improvements will he make? What will he do to make the BP compelling enough to warrant a subscription? Is there anything concrete yet?

Interested in any comments you might have.

Anonymous said...

The problem with advertising in a daily is its hit or miss. Also, the paper really needs to do an image change.

Steve Collins said...

Re Schroeder's plans...
Obviously, we're all waiting, too, to see how things will turn out. But here's what I do know:
1. He's trying to find new, separate office space for both papers.
2. He's getting our email system off the evil former owner's computers.
3. He's exploring what hardware and software he needs to get to allow us to operate without any reliance on the evil former owner's system.
4. He's looking into printing options that would not depend on the evil former owner's presses.
5. He's already changed the delivery system to bring it back under local control. That was a crucial, crucial step.
6. He's beefing up the ad department, thank God.
7. He has hired a replacement for the reporter who used to cover Plymouth and Burlington, so the Press is back up to three reporters, though Jackie Majerus and I remain the only city reporters. There's talk of getting a new police reporter, but that's on hold for now, I think.
8. We have local editorials again on many days rather than almost never.
I could go on, but the bottom line is that he's moving pretty fast for one guy with a very long list of things to do.
When will the changes be obvious to readers? I'm not sure. But they will be.
Throw your support behind what he's doing now and you'll help make reform come faster.

Anonymous said...

Dig deep and subscribe! Dig deep and subscribe! Dig deep and subscribe!

Anonymous said...

"Evil former owner"? That's a little much. Probably lacking good business skills, and not overly sympathetic to employees, but not evil.

Steve Collins said...

Ask Chris Healy, the state GOP chairman. He called the company evil, too, for the same reasons.
In fact, you can pretty much ask anyone who knows anything about the company and they'll say the same thing.

Anonymous said...

To 2 p.m. anonymous.
Steve is right. That corporation is pure evil. I am in a position to know.
I don't get why he won't name them anymore, but that's his issue. It doesn't make them go away, and I doubt he's afraid of them. Maybe it just hurts his fingers to type JRC. OWWWWW!
Okay, I get it now.
I think speaking the truth loud and clear is important, though, and I appreciate all Steve has done to open the doors and windows so people can have a glimpse of what was happening. It took a lot of guts.

Anonymous said...

JRC is evil and B. Hussein Obama is not evil? LOL

Anonymous said...

There have been dozens of interested buyers for JRC's shuttered weeklies. In every instance, JRC has had reasonable offers but has opted to shut down the papers instead of selling them.

JRC has given fired staffers of the shuttered papers every story in the book about why the papers were shut down. The best one of all is essentially the buyer withdrew his offer to buy the paper. So blame a prospective buyer for the job losses. And the fired drones lap it up like Jonestown Kool Aid.

In one cluster, 1 x gross revenue was offered for several papers. Fair deal. But JRC made every excuse possible as to why it would not sell, including the asinine "we want to be sure we collect all of our receivables, so maybe you can buy the paper after it's been shut down for a few months."

It seems to me that JRC's corporate directors feel mighty powerful shutting down papers-- all the while knowing a sale could save employees' jobs and produce some revenue for the company.

And many current JRC employees are so loyal and beholden to the company that it is unbelievably pathetic or ridiculous or both. One JRC employee who was fired when his paper was shut down decided to freelance for a JRC paper that remained open. Another fired JRC staffer was verbally guaranteed a job at another JRC paper "a few months down the road" so this employee will not take a job elsewhere.

Steve Collins said...

2:41 -- I'm sorry to have my concerns confirmed.

Anonymous said...

Any reason why the new owner doesn't respond to phone calls or Emails?