Today: KC Star Financials & Cutbacks Update, Monday D-Day Alert

You read it here first….

On April 11th to be exact. About the seemingly inevitable quarterly Kansas City Star layoffs and/or cutbacks of the past 4 years that appear poised to go down Monday.

For two reasons; ongoing, declining revenues both advertising and circulation. Which are measured and marked to the market at the end of every financial quarter.

And with with parent company McClatchy‘s newly announced first quarter revenues down 9.5 percent from 2010, the handwriting’s on the wall.

The cutbacks go down on the Monday following pay day. At least that’s the way the game has been played in recent years.

Trust me, I’ve played it.

There are a few wild cards in the mix, but first let’s read a few tea leaves in the just released financials.

Star publisher Mark Zieman likes to explain away the ongoing cuts based on a sour economy. But that’s just the tip of the newspaper freefall iceberg.

Take the Star‘s three and four page obituary – I mean, "remembrance" – section. It’s generally loaded with paid going away ads for oldsters who used to read newspapers. People like my parents. But they no longer need ’em in heaven, and they’re too dang flammable down in Hades.

  

So cross those folks off the subscriber list.

And speaking of Hades…

Like Charon – the ferryman who carried the dead across the River Styx in ancient mythology – the Star collects passage fees from its former readers – but not in the form of pennies in the eyes of the dead. Rather as obituary ad dollars paid by survivors. Survivors who no longer rely upon newsprint for news.

Now about those financials…

The story in today’s Star about McClatchy’s disappointing digits notes that 60 percent ($180 million) of the newspaper company’s total revenues came from print ad sales. Online advertising is pegged at $45 million or 15 percent.

That leaves 25 percent of McClatchy’s revenues unaccounted for.

The lion’s share of that number (22 of 25) is identified by McClatchy- but not in the Star story – as circulation revenue ( subscriptions) at $66.2 million. In other words nearly 85 percent of all the money coming in comes from the beleaguered print side of the biz. And with print circulation or readership down 5 percent, it’s not hard to see the handwriting on the wall.

A disastrous combination and trend of both fewer ad and circulation dollars coming in.

Not just because of the economy, but because fewer people are paying (and willing to wait) to retrieve their news from their driveways.

It ain’t pretty, ladies and gentlemen.

Now some wild cards…

While the Star has been unable to unload its gleaming new print facility downtown, it did manage to dump off three of its properties nearby recently on downtown developer Brad Nicholson. That may help some, but Nicholson’s a sharpshooter and the chances he paid anything close to top dollar are slim.

And as mentioned here in the initial reporting on possible first quarter cuts, the Star could unload, cut back or do away with losers like the Olathe News and Lee’s Summit Journal. Properties it paid millions for in all likelihood, that 10 years later  are now worth next to – if not – nothing.

And there could be some savings realized on the buildings that were dumped – property taxes, utilities, upkeep, etc.

So we’ll see…

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10 Responses to Today: KC Star Financials & Cutbacks Update, Monday D-Day Alert

  1. smartman says:

    Paper Tiger
    Well life at the Star is kinda laid back. How many folks is Mark Zieman gonna whack? Wonder if Fannin’s poundin’ Holly in the sack? Thank God I’m a paper boy.

    Used to go to work and make good money but they cut us all in half so sad it ain’t funny. Wonder what happened to Mike Fannin’s honey. Thank God I’m a paper boy.

    Turned in 3 a week and made a hundred grand. Got to do the schmooze and hang out with the band. Didn’t turn out exactly as I planned. Thank God I’m a paper boy.

    They say that future is on the internet. Me and Fat Tony are both takin’ up that bet. They say the money’s comin’ but we ain’t seen it yet. Thank God I’m a paper boy.

  2. Hearne says:

    Believe it or not here’s an update
    The rumor at the Star is Monday is the day. Pay day or not. And the magic number being kicked around is 20 company-wide.

  3. j-mac says:

    Yes Hearne We Know You Want The Star To Die
    Is it just me or do you sound like a giggling little schoolgirl every time you write one of these articles? Death to the Star. Death to the Pitch. Death to the Sun. Death to the Platte County Landmark. You are as bad as Whitlock. Jesus let it go already.

  4. Hearne Christopher says:

    It’s you.

  5. bschloz says:

    4/28/11
    I have read KC Star cover to cover…KCC…Drudge…been on the twitter. And I can tell you there ain’t shit going on.
    Royals finding their level…more shrinkage from my beloved Star. Birth Certificates….Million dollar jocks and billionaires crying.
    Anybody catch the historic press conference from Bernanke …what a powder puff deal that was
    …the whole system was built on rising home prices….oops.
    Says high prices at the pump are transitory ..TRANSLATION = They are going higher
    Says strong $dollar policy is very important….just not now. TRANSLATION = Silver makes a banana run to $50 LOL
    And now 2012 Ron Paul is the voice of reason haha..Paul will take us back to the 60’s where we can all carry around little coin pouches.

  6. Mark x says:

    … actually, this ISN’T news …
    _____Not just because of the economy, but because fewer people are paying (and willing to wait) to retrieve their news from their driveways____

    Yup, that’s the entire industry

  7. chuck says:

    Funny stuff Sman.
    🙂

  8. chuck says:

    bschloz
    6.00 a gallon?

  9. gkerr says:

    Left wing press in free fall as is entirely predictable.
    The mainstream press like the dying Star has been for years an apologist for the Saul Alinskification of Civic discourse and political action. They routiinely champion the left most course of political dialog and recommend utterly destructive courses of action to their readers that advance the religious aspirations of the left wing.

    With great schadenfreude we who are not barking leftists applaud the slow twisting in the wind of the dying secular illuminati who so loathe traditional America.

  10. KCFan says:

    Star
    I swore I would never unsubscribe from the Star, but the quality got so bad a few years back that I dropped it. I could read it too quickly online. Now I read the online version even less. Probably spending less than 5 minutes a day on the site. Frankly, I think they have been flustered by 21st century and don’t know what to do.

    Honestly, KC Confidential could get considerably more web traffic if you’d add yourself on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve kinda been waiting for some old Star employees to start a new online only site, but be a serious competitor to the Star. This site seems more like a hobby, but there’s potential for it to be more and a serious rival to the Star.

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