Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Zapping the Merger

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Zapping the Merger

Article excerpt

RETIREES HAVE THE luxury of speaking their minds without worrying about losing their jobs, and circulation expert Joe Forsee took full advantage of that in an address to wholesale newspaper distributors.

Forsee, president of the International Circulation Managers Association for 12 years before the group was absorbed into the Newspaper Association of America last year, doesn't think that the merger was a great idea. He offered his reasons in a speech before the American Association of Independent Newspaper Distributors at its annual meeting in Las Vegas Oct. 25-28.

For one thing, Forsee explained, ICMA "was functioning well... was in good financial shape and charging much less for dues, conferences, seminars and services than most other newspaper associations."

But primarily, he "never thought the merger was the right approach." He said, "The argument for a unified approach to marketing challenges could, in my judgment, have been realized in a much more cost-effective mannerby joint meetings and coordination between associations.

Forsee, who was circulation manager of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before his ICMA appointment, also fired a few volleys at newspapers.

He lauded them for meeting current marketing challenges through research, technological changes and paying more attention to reader needs but added, "My concern is that marketing to many people means advertising -- and circulation means merely distribution. Newspapers are still not stirring up the entire marketing mix."

Forsee complained that circulation receives the "short straw" in a newspaper's strategies, even though it is one of the more important departments.

Marketing the newspaper to readers should be circulation's key task, he said.

"There is no other department suited to stir up all the elements of the marketing mix, utilize the information of what people want, what they will pay for it and get the product to the customer like the customer wants it," he added.

Forsee also lambasted late press runs as one of the "greatest injustices" in the newspaper business.

"For the .life of me, with all that technology, I can't understand why consistent, on-time press runs can't be achieved," he said.

When circulation people try to convert publishers to this idea, their concerns are "rather frivolously dismissed," Forsee said. …

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