The Union Publisher: Our print circulation has “plateaued”

“Our print subscriptions have plateaued along a line that would show a slight drop since the recession,” writes Publisher Don Rogers in his weekly column. “The drop is very, very slow, but yes, perceptible.”

The good news, at least according to Rogers, is “our online viewership surged with the storms.” He also cites “double-digit” growth in 2016. (He doesn’t mention the previous years, however, after The Union began locking its content behind a “paywall.”)

What Don ignores in his “analysis” is that The Union’s content remains parked behind a “paywall.” That stinks for visitors and people and businesses who might want to relocate here (AKA economic development). The Union is a subcontractor to the Nevada County Economic Resource Council.

In his column, Don also ignores the impact of social media, including Facebook pages such as “Nevada County peeps.” Community engagement on Facebook is booming!

Don also claims to be an “expert” when it comes to competitors’ traffic, from YubaNet to KNCO to the blogs. But he doesn’t have that information. He can only guess.

As one of The Union’s chief competitors put it in an email to me: “I haven’t the faintest idea where he would get numbers.”

Community newspapers such as The Union are at a crossroads — somewhere in between relevant and irrelevant. Don ignores that in his column.

I want to like Don. He’s no Jeff Ackerman or Jim Hemig — insecure, and full of bluster and bravado. I’d like to think he’s more akin to Dave Schmall, whom I enjoy. Don’s still trying to find himself as a community leader. His first step is working harder to be “transparent.”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

One thought on “The Union Publisher: Our print circulation has “plateaued””

  1. Sure enough, The Union publisher is eating crow a week later with his website “estimates.” He writes in a correction: “A correction on last Friday’s column: Yubanet co-founder Pascale Fusshoeler let me know the site recorded 740,000 page views in January, far more than outside estimates suggested. This is in line with estimates of their fire season traffic, which makes sense considering the level of breaking news during the winter storms.”

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