Guest Paper: Dayton Weekly News

Friday, April 6, 2012

While not meeting the geographical conditions I originally established for this feature (and I've stretched those rather thin in an earlier entry here), I am highlighting a local periodical for this 'guest' paper spotlight.  Although a resident of this area for most of the past 12 years, I never heard of the Dayton Weekly News prior to the 'hoodie' rally I attended this past Sunday.  During my coverage of that event, I had the good fortune of talking with two photographers who regularly provide images to that paper.  The publication also got mentioned during the program by several speakers.  And when I went across the street looking for some water after the rally ended, the store I stopped by had copies sitting out on their newsstand.  I do believe in coincidences (and fate) so I plunked down my 'four bits' and walked out with the edition pictured above.

The Dayton Weekly News (I'll abbreviated it as DWN for the rest of the piece), like the local military base's Skywriter, is a broadsheet publication that has a specifically targeted audience.  Under the DWN's masthead is the phrase "an African-American Community Newspaper", and all of the stories on this edition's front page (and throughout its 12 total pages) caters directly to that audience.  The headline story concerned the recent killing of 25-year-old Dante Price by two security guards at a city apartment complex and his family's demands for justice in this matter.  Other attracting items on the front page addressed rallies across the country for slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the recent Supreme Court hearings over President Obama's healthcare initiative, the Los Angeles coroner's report on the tragic death of singer Whitney Houston back in February, and a Dayton City School basketball team winning their state high school championship game. 

I perused the rest of the paper which has sections highlighting national news, editorials, and stories concerning education, religion, arts and entertainment, health and sports.  While most of the stories are unattributed, a few cite syndication sources (CNN, AP) and one about about racial disparity in school punishment is a portion of an NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund news release from early March.  Two national-level columnists (Leonard Pitts, Jr. and Dr. Julianne Malveaux) have pieces on the editorial pages along with the paper's editor and assistant editor.  While Black's, Cochran's and Pitts' entries were somewhat current, the piece by the African-American economist, author, liberal social and political commentator, and businesswoman (and current president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina) appeared in other newspapers and online sites shortly after the New Year.  With the exception of a near third-of-a-page sized ad for the Ohio Lottery on page 3, the rest of the advertisements and public service items appear to be from within and meant specifically for the paper's target community.

Co-founded in 1994 by Don Black and his son Donerik, the DWN currently exists, unfortunately, only in a physical form with no accessible online presence that can be found by me and my Google search engine skills.  In a 2011 interview with Dayton Most Metro, Donerik said that the paper wants to expand digitally but he is not too worried about this process which is only taking "baby steps" towards that goal.  While I'm someone in the demographic who will, as he states, "always want that hard copy" of a newspaper, the long-term viability of that publication will hinge upon using the web to get their message out to a wider (and more 'tech-savvy') audience.  Personally, I would like the convenience of visiting a web site to keep up with the internal activities of such a large segment of the Dayton, Ohio community but, for now, a long drive to an urban newsstand (or a copy delivered to my door by the US Postal Service) will have to suffice. 

A quick note to the staff concerning your business model...a newspaper usually offers a discount to subscribers as an incentive to build a loyal base of readers and to increase long-term sales.  The DWN, with a $.50 newsstand price, offers an annual subscription rate of $35 (I'm assuming via second class postage instead of a contracted deliverer).  If you do the math, you will notice that subscribers pay $9--almost 35 percent--more than readers who pick up their own copies at local establishments for a $26 total over that same 52-week period.  In contrast, a 7-day-a-week, 30-day-a month subscription to the Dayton Daily News can be delivered to your doorstep for as little as $23 a month, a significant savings over paying $1 for the daily and $2 for the Sunday editions (and some online sites offer discounted subscriptions as low as $15 a month for home delivery). 

Before supporters of the DWN chime in here, I do realize that it is not fair to compare a community newspaper in a medium-sized city to a multi-state, multi-city multimedia corporation but it doesn't take an MBA to see this perceived slight to readers who might want to financially 'commit' to your publication.  The only reason I can come up with to explain this scheme is an intentional bias that favors the building of strong 'win-win' economic relationships with your current point-of-sale locations and hopefully increasing their numbers--and your paper's reach--within Dayton as well as in surrounding communities in Montgomery County.  If that is the case, please excuse my 'Business 101' lesson above because it is sometimes very easy to forget that the 'bottom line' is not the ultimate goal of community journalism, just an associated--and increasingly necessary--'evil'.

No comments:

Post a Comment