Magazine article Editor & Publisher

INDEPENDENT Thinkers - 'The Day,' New London, Conn

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

INDEPENDENT Thinkers - 'The Day,' New London, Conn

Article excerpt

Owner's will was the way to ensure quality and profitability in perpetuity

Free of the profit pressures common to publicly held companies, The Day's margins are allowed to run in the 10%-to-12% range, leaving more money for capital improvements, raises, equipment -- and community services. This year, the New London, Conn., newspaper plans to give scholarships to a local play group, toys to a child-care center, and fruits and vegetables to an area shelter.

In fact, the paper's nonprofit Bodenwein Public Benevolent Foundation will hand over some $300,000 to nearby charities -- as it does every year. It's part of an arrangement set forth in the will of Theodore Bodenwein, The Day's owner and publisher from 1891 to 1939.

"The intent of the will is that the paper be more than an information vehicle to the region it serves," says Gary Farrugia, who became the paper's editor and publisher this month. "It allows us to focus on what's right for the community, not the most profit-making."

Upon Bodenwein's death, ownership was given to The Day Trust, a permanent entity overseen by a board of trustees, who also serve on the newspaper's board of directors. A stipulation in the will, reprinted in Gregory N. Stone's 2000 book, The Day Paper: The Story of One of America's Last Independent Newspapers, allows the paper to be sold only if it fails to be profitable for two consecutive years.

The board is responsible for investing The Day's profit back in the newspaper and for issuing dividends to the Bodenwein foundation four times a year.

The Day still has to watch its revenue and pay taxes like any other newspaper. Signs that it, too, can be hurt by recession are an increase in home-delivery rates this year and buyouts offered to 56 employees that are expected to save $750,000.

Circulation has been virtually flat recently, with the daily figure down to 41,290 in September 2001 from 41,743 in September 2000 and the Sunday number down to 47,022 from 47,225 over the same period. …

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