Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspapers All Thumbs on 'Rules'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspapers All Thumbs on 'Rules'

Article excerpt

Everybody knows that daily newspapers are shrinking newsrooms and newshole, right? Not necessarily, according to an analysis of newspaper industry "rules of thumb" by the Inland Press Association. Using data from the most recent Inland National Cost & Revenue Study, the Des Plaines, Ill.-based organization came up with some findings that defy conventional industry wisdom.

Take newsroom staffing. The rule of thumb is 1.1 to 1.2 so-called FTE's (full-time equivalents) per 1,000 paid circulation. "It turns out newsroom staffing is actually up, and newspapers are 'overstaffed' at all circulation levels," says Inland Executive Director Ray Carlsen. Papers under 10,000 circulation are staffed at 1.5 FTEs per thousand, as are papers from 25,000 to 50,000. Papers with circulations between 50,000 and 100,000 are staffed at 1.4 per thousand.

In a pattern that emerges repeatedly from Inland's data, it's the biggest papers -- those over 100,000 circulation -- that are closest to a rule of thumb. But even those newsrooms are slightly "overstaffed," at 1.3 FTEs per thousand.

It's a similar story with newshole, which the rule of thumb states should be at 50% of available space. Only the biggest papers are below that, at 49.1%. The other circ groups range from 54.3% to 55.5%.

And for all the talk about belt-tightening in newsrooms, every circulation group is comfortably within the rule of thumb that newsroom expenses should account for 14% to 15% of total costs.

Almost all newspapers are also spending on the high end of the rule of thumb that says employee expenses should account for 76% to 80% of newsroom expenses. …

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