Suburban Journals: Looking for Subscribers

By Malone, Roy | St. Louis Journalism Review, January-February 2010 | Go to article overview

Suburban Journals: Looking for Subscribers


Malone, Roy, St. Louis Journalism Review


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For decades, the Suburban Journals, a chain of free weekly newspapers ringing St. Louis, was a formidable force and among the most lucrative in the nation among urban weeklies. That was then.

Today, the Journals are a question mark and the present owner--Lee Enterprises--won't talk about them. They are suffering from the same economic pressures facing most newspapers--a drop in ad revenue and circulation and increased costs.

A switch to paid circulation from free distribution, appears not to have paid off. "The executives did not think the response would be as low as it was," said one ad rep.

The Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis trace their beginnings to 1922 and evolved as two independent weekly chains. The 33 suburban weeklies were sold together to Ingersoll Publications in 1984, to Pulitzer Inc. in 2000, and they came to Lee in 2005 when Lee bought Pulitzer Inc.

In November 2007, Lee said the Suburban Journals were a group of 40 publications with a circulation of more than one million each week. These included 31 separate newspapers distributed free to nearly 660,000 households. Also, 360,000 homes received a Sunday Journal and 64,000 homes in St. Charles County received a Friday edition. The group also included several specialty publications, including the Ladue News and the quarterly St. Louis Best Bridal Magazine.

The Journals, like the Post, have been making deep cuts in staff and other expenses over the last few years, including 50 layoffs at one time in September 2008, just after layoffs a month earlier and the closing of a printing plant in Berkeley with 42 jobs cut. An unofficial estimate is that more that half of the Journals' employees have left under Lee's ownership.

The St. Louis Business Journal reported that in one layoff, described by a former employee as like "a reality TV show," employees were sent to a conference area and "one room was safe and one room was those let go. Bob Williams (the publisher) fired us in a group setting."

There has been a reduction in the number of editions and the closing of offices to consolidate operations. The Journals' main office is on the third floor of an office building at 14522 South Outer 40 Road in Town and Country. Another former ad rep said, "We had 37 (editions), I think we are down to 22. It was like the joke around the office. We never really knew how many Journals we had."

Going for broke

A big move came in November 2008 when the Journals switched from free distribution to paid circulation, offering one year of home delivery for $19.99. The idea was to improve revenue and cut waste and printing costs. Also, advertisers believe a newspaper is more likely to be read when it is paid for rather than thrown free on a lawn.

Many in the news industry questioned this move of asking readers to pay for what they had been receiving free. They said it was going against the trend of how weekly newspapers operated--by free distribution.

Then-publisher Bob Williams said at the time, "This is an idea that has been discussed at the Journals for years" and was necessary because of changing economic conditions. The Journals, he said, would find out in which communities to increase coverage, which topics to cover more extensively, and be able to deliver papers to readers living in multi-family dwellings or gated communities.

In recent Post-Dispatch ads, the Journals were trying for more subscriptions by offering free Cardinals baseball tickets with each new subscription.

Executives of the Journals and Lee would not take any questions despite repeated requests for them to comment on their operations and future strategy. These include Tom Wiley, who recently replaced Williams as publisher of the Journals, Kevin Mowbray, publisher of the Post who also oversees the Journals, and Dan Hayes, Lee's public relations man in Davenport, Iowa. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Suburban Journals: Looking for Subscribers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.