If you’re a Raleigh News & Observer print reader who Sunday, Mar. 29, looked at page 12A and then glanced at the facing page, you saw that entire page contained “An open letter to our readers”
The open letter from Orage Quarles, III, N&O President & Publisher is nowhere I could find at the N&O’s online site, newsobserver.com; nor is it linked or even mentioned at the N&O’s Editors’ Blog.
For those who aren’t N&O print readers, I’ve typed some of what Quarles told readers and followed that with a copy of an email I’ve just sent him.
Saying he wanted to “set the record straight,” Quarles told N&O readers:
First and foremost, The N&O is a profitable enterprise that is not about to go out of business. In fact, more people depend on us now than ever in our history. Our print and online readership grew last year, and our combined audience keeps setting records.My email to Quarles:
Every single day, more then 400, 000 adults read The N&O in print ( more than 500,000 on Sundays) and another 85,000 read us online.
Each month, more than 1.8 million unique visitors come to our Web sites, and in just one day this week, we ha more than 1.5 million page views on our site. …
Orage Quarles, President & Publisher
The Raleigh News & Observer
Dear Mr. Quarles:
I can’t find your open letter of March 29 anywhere at newsobserver.com or the Editors’ Blog. Did I miss its online publication?
If so, please let me know where it is and I’ll inform JinC readers.
If your letter’s not online, why isn’t it?
With your letter online and an opportunity for readers to comment, you could engage us and respond to our questions and concerns in an “open forum” all could view.
You say that “[e]very single day, more than 400, 000 adults read The N&O in print[.]”
But you don’t say how you arrived at that number or how it compares with the number of print readers The N&O claimed 5 and 10 years ago.
According to a McClatchy publication chart posted at McClatchy Watch, N&O print circulation in 1998 was, rounded to the nearest thousand, 208, 000 (Sunday) and 164,000 (weekday).
The Audit Bureau of Circulations recent N&O print circulation numbers are about the same or lower than those McClatchy claimed in 1998.
That circulation flat-lining has occurred while population in The N&O’s circulation area has boomed. The US Census Bureau estimates that in Wake County alone between 2000 and 2008 population grew by more than 200,000.
Yet your letter doesn’t discuss long-term factors impacting print circulation and the ad revenues it generates. Instead you express the hope “that this recession is slowing, and that better days will come sooner rather than later.”
You say The N&O is still profitable but you don’t say whether that’s mainly, or even entirely, because of the frequent employee buyouts and layoffs The N&O’s engaged in the past few years and all the outsourcing you’ve done.
You make no mention of how the financial problems of The N&O’s parent McClatchy Company are impacting the paper.
Many people say McClatchy’s problems are one of the principal reasons for The N&O’s cuts in staff and the elimination or melding of entire sections of the newspaper with an attendant and obvious loss in the breath and depth of the paper’s coverage.
I look forward to your response. As in the past, I'll post your response in full at my blog.
John in Carolina