Roger L. Simon

The Big Slide

Tribune Publishing President Scott Smith has an explanation for the continued circulation deline, 5.5% this time, of my hometown paper the Los Angeles Times (owned by the Chicago Trib):

Q1 circulation revenue for the company was down 9% due to “volume discounts.” The largest revenue drops occurred at the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. Excluding the two papers, circulation revenue for the company would have been down 4%.

This piece of information didn’t keep analysts from circling around the L.A. Times. When asked why the paper is experiencing such steep circ losses compared to the competition’s — the Los Angeles Daily News, for example, was flat last period — Smith explained the Times relied too heavily on telemarketing. That, along with the implementation of tighter controls on field sales, contributed to the drop-off.

“Field sales” and that pesky “telemarketing” again. Good. I was beginning to worry some readers might have suspected the slide had something to do with the product itself. What a relief.