Investing in newsrooms during the layoff era
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Local newspapers around the country are in trouble. But as the primary source of information in many of the communities they represent, these organizations provide valuable spaces for the exchange of ideas and information. As such, solutions that reverse dwindling circulation numbers remain a worthy pursuit. This study examines medium-sized newspapers from around the country during what's described as the "layoff era" -- the period of time following the economic recession that began in 2007. It revisits a previously established method for increasing circulation: newsroom investment, which can be understood as a commitment of resources into the printed product. To study the correlation between investments and circulation in a more modern era, the baseline performance of a group of medium-sized papers was found by locating and then analyzing the circulation change at each publication. Subsets within the sample were then further examined for evidence that investments made by newsrooms leaders had an effect on circulation figures. While the link between investments and circulation gains was clear during the pre-layoff era, evidence showed the opposite during the layoff era. Commitments to the printed product were not met with circulation gains. The research serves as a historical take on the effects of the Great Recession on newsrooms and as a caution to current newsroom leaders as they search for ways to combat circulation declines.
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