Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By the numbers

To those who have ever grumbled about pay, layoffs or other general cuts in the newspaper world, I'm right there with you.

But have you ever sat down and thought about what all this costs?

Frustrated with the way things were going and sparked by my own entrepreneurial, I wrote out what I thought a newspaper should be: how it operates, how it fits into a small communities, etc.

After getting some general and specific concepts down, including a staff list and duties, I started putting numbers to it. I've been around the biz for a while, so I'm confident in my estimates for costs and revenue. I've built a business model that (with optimistic numbers) breaks even. Except I haven't figured in the printing cost yet.

I know, that's the obvious cost, but I don't know those numbers without some research. Salary cost was easy. I know what I get paid, have been paid, what others were paid and what I think they should get paid.

Circulation and advertising revenue figures were fairly easy, too. The wild card to me is printing. I can barely get it to break even without printing costs.

I'm not saying layoffs and other cuts are right or fair. I'm just saying this is harder than it looks. Start up costs are astronomical. Annual costs are surprisingly high. It makes me wonder how newspapers even worked to begin with, let alone stay open today.

I've got a little more respect for those in the HR/accounting offices and the decision makers. I'm going to continue to find ways to make it work and create a model. Suggestions are more than welcome. So are contributions for a start up.

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