Daily paper shrinking

Next month, The Post-Standard will combine local and national sections:

In response to declining circulation and ad revenues, The Post-Standard, like daily newspapers across the country, is cutting back staff benefits and news content.

The city's only daily plans to combine it's A and B sections in mid-to-late-April, blending national and local news in a single section.

The change was announced Tuesday March 24 by one of the paper's senior writers, Fred Fiske, as he delivered a lecture called "Adapt or Die: the Future of Journalism."

{Q}"We've seen a mock-up of the redesign, and it's dazzling," Fiske said{Q}, but he added that most stories will be shorter.

Largely as a result of Internet competition, "Newspapers are becoming rarer, thinner and more expensive," Fiske said. "We're charging more and offering less, which is the wrong business model, if you ask me."

In his talk, part of the University Neighbors Lecture Series at the Westcott Community Center, Fiske read a long list of daily papers which have folded, undergone massive layoffs or switched to online-only versions. He bemoaned the firing of his friend and former Post staffer Molly Engel, who was recently axed by the Los Angeles Times despite having helped the paper win a Pulitzer Prize for science reporting.

The Post-Standard, however, remains stronger than many of its counterparts elsewhere. With a circulation at juts above 100,000 and advertising income relatively steady due to its state-of-the-art printing press and color reproduction, the 180-year-old Syracuse daily is not yet in danger of dying. While ad sales nationally are down by 25 percent and falling, the Post-Standard only recently saw its income decrease by double digits, and its Sunday paper remains among the top 10 in the country.

Nevertheless, Advance Publications, Inc. (formerly Newhouse), which owns the Syracuse daily is forcing employees to take annual furloughs -- ten days of unpaid vacation -- "and our pension plan is getting more brittle and less generous," Fiske said.

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