AG Scrutinizing Clarion-Ledger's TDN Scheme | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

AG Scrutinizing Clarion-Ledger's TDN Scheme

Updated.

On Sunday, Sept. 17, Clarion-Ledger Publisher John Newhouse ran a full-page house ad on the last page of his paper's business section with a letter that appears to target the Mississippi Independent Publishers Alliance, a group of publishers that came together in response to The Clarion-Ledger's "The Distribution Network" (TDN) scheme.

In his letter, Newhouse revealed publicly for the first time that the Mississippi Attorney General is now interested in TDN.

"In early August," Newhouse wrote, "we also were asked to provide documentation to the Mississippi Attorney General's office regarding TDN and how we implemented the program. While we are 100 percent confident that TDN was started with utmost professionalism, and can withstand any test, we are disappointed that a legitimate business venture has had to endure such unnecessary scrutiny."

Jan Schaefer, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said it was the policy of her office neither to confirm nor to deny possible investigations.

Newhouse did not return calls for comment. Neither did The Clarion-Ledger's Ron Gooding, who is the non-daily distribution manager who handles TDN. Tara Connell, a spokeswoman for Gannett Co. Inc., in Virginia, which owns The Clarion-Ledger, also declined to comment on Tuesday.

Later in the "open letter from the Publisher," Newhouse insinuates that MIPA members might have endorsed, in some way, recent vandalism of one of his employees' property and a burglary of the employee's car—accusations that MIPA will respond to publicly later this week. Newhouse wrote: "We can only hope the events are not endorsed by publishers opposing TDN. ... We are alarmed and disturbed that he experienced these problems only after TDN was launched." Newhouse did not, however, provide any evidence linking any member of MIPA to the criminal activity.

JFP Publisher Todd Stauffer made this statement on Monday: "Needless to say, I think I speak for all publishers in the the Mississippi Independent Publishers' Alliance when I say that (1) we are all legitimate business people with ties to this community and we would never endorse graffiti or any sort of criminal behavior against "the employee who manages TDN for the Clarion-Ledger" and (2) that we would be happy to cooperate with JPD or other authorities if and when they contact us about this matter. As of yet, they have not." He added: "The fact that Newhouse chose to reveal these alleged acts in a house advertisement in his newspaper without contacting any of us (that I know of), and that he does it under the cover of an insinuation against MIPA members is, in my opinion, cause for concern in its own right."

In July, Editor & Publisher Magazine had this to say about The Clarion-Ledger's effort to control distribution of free publications in Jackson and other cities—which it calls a "gang rack scheme": "Corporate should bring it to a halt," in a strongly worded editorial, which appeared in the same issue of the national trade magazine that, in its cover story, gave The Clarion-Ledger props for Jerry Mitchell's civil-rights coverage.

Newhouse presents TDN differently in his letter: "Contrary to some reports, TDN has not refused to allow any publication from participating in TDN's distribution network business. ... TDN will continue its policy of equal access for all free publications that desire to participate with TDN. No one has been excluded—except by their own choice."

Newhouse does not explain that The Clarion-Ledger requires participating businesses to sign exclusive contracts, shutting free publications out of locations where they have previously distributed unless they pay regular fees to TDN. When businesses sign these contracts, TDN employees remove other publications' distribution boxes to an empty, uncovered lot, until they are returned.

Conversely, MIPA members do not ask for exclusive distribution from retailers.

Editor & Publisher criticized Gannett publishers such as Newhouse for giving free publications a "Hobson's Choice" by trying to force publications to pay in order to continue distribution to hundreds of locations. Editor & Publisher said a Gannett sales person "sweet-talks retailers into thinking all the free papers are going along with its offer to become the only rack in the store," as E&P put it. "The competitors are forced to go along, or lose access to the outlet."

Editor & Publisher wrote that TDN constitutes a deliberate attack on free papers' "First Amendment right to distribute papers without unreasonable interference," by "stirring up these faux crises about the ‘clutter' of free papers.'"

When called by JFP Publisher Todd Stauffer, Clarion-Ledger Editorial Director David Hampton refused to give MIPA space in the "Letters to the Editor" section for a response to Newhouse. He told Stauffer that Newhouse's open letter was a "house ad," and that it didn't represent a "public policy" issue that would merit space for a response.

See our Goliath Blog for a history of the TDN sceme.

—by Brian Johnson

Previous Comments

ID
170934
Comment

"The fact that Newhouse chose to reveal these alleged acts in a house advertisement in his newspaper without contacting any of us (that I know of), and that he does it under the cover of an insinuation against MIPA members is, in my opinion, cause for concern in its own right." This is an act of desperation. They are afraid of JFP. Your paper has them shaking in their boots. They also are trying to poison potential readers by paint the JFP staff as bitter, rekless, and destructive. I smell FEAR here, and that is the true motive behind such a public attack.

Author
blu_n_a_redstate
Date
2006-09-18T21:37:17-06:00
ID
170935
Comment

At least they have finally acknowleged JFP's existance!

Author
Rico
Date
2006-09-18T21:44:16-06:00
ID
170936
Comment

He's scared, and in a losing position.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-09-18T22:08:58-06:00
ID
170937
Comment

I'm not a lawyer, but I've used a lot of them in my lifetime. It's been a long time, but somewhere in the back of my mind I remember a lawyer about 30 years ago telling me that Mississippi's STATE anti-trust laws are more stringent that the federal anti-trust laws. I don't know if that's true or not anymore, but it would seem to me that the AG and other private lawyers out there might want to pursue that angle against the Clarion-Ledger. I also seem to recall that attorneys fees are awarded to the plaintiff if they prevail in such a case, along with treble damages. Who knows, maybe it could be big money. So, how about a lawsuit that has the federal anti-trust claims AND the state anti-trust claims all in one. Just a thought. I'm simply disgusted at the CL's conduct on this issue.

Author
FriendsofJackson
Date
2006-09-18T22:40:22-06:00
ID
170938
Comment

I don't want to start a flame war, but I used to work for the CL - left fairly recently, and I can say one thing for sure: "Fear" is certainly not the motivator here. I don't want to disparage the JFP or its staff in the slightest bit, but I can assure you that the CL is in no way "scared" of it.

Author
imajeep
Date
2006-09-19T08:14:41-06:00
ID
170939
Comment

jeep, what's your explanation for their behavior then? From my point of view, it looks like an attempt to push out competition, with a lame ass and misrepresented scheme. Now, if CL wasn't in some way worried about competing with the JFP, then why would they bother with this kind of trashy maneuvering? I'm really curious as to what you think their motivations are.

Author
kate
Date
2006-09-19T08:37:00-06:00
ID
170940
Comment

'by paint the JFP staff as bitter, rekless' I meant to say, by PAINTING the JFP staff as bitter, RECKLESS.... My Bad. :(

Author
blu_n_a_redstate
Date
2006-09-19T08:40:14-06:00
ID
170941
Comment

I will actually agree with imajeep to the extent that I don't think the CL is scared of the JFP per se. It probably should be, but it isn't. Jealousy and greed strike me as the more likely motivators--this is all about their Weekend section, I think, and their frustration over the fact that the JFP is kicking their butt with a much smaller budget. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-09-19T08:44:08-06:00
ID
170942
Comment

I'll respond to both tom and katie in one go: Please remember this is my opinion, not the corporate stance. The primary motivator is advertising revenue. By limiting the distribution of your competitors, you effectively diminish their overall exposure, thereby putting your own product in a superior position to command more advertising dollars from the market. There is only so much money to go around, and the goal for any form of media in any market is to have ALL of it spent with your particular vehicle. What the TDN would allow for is the CL to have a fairly accurate "in-house" number of the competing papers actual distribution and exposure which they could compare with their own products when selling ad space. "See, here, Mr Advertisier: The CL hits 100,000 on any given day, whereas the JFP hits a mere 20,000." **Please note that I pulled those numbers out of my ass and I have no idea if they are accurate. John is pissed because it's not working like he planned. What they're doing is one of the main reasons I left: If something is just simply not working, they attempt to force it in any way they can, no matter the cost, no matter the stupidity, and no matter the energy required to do so, and, in the end, it's going to fail anyway. There is almost no critical evaluation of any failing product - it's the market's fault, not the product's. Fear, no. Greed, stubborness, and failure to critically evaluate the product or service at hand - yes.

Author
imajeep
Date
2006-09-19T08:56:12-06:00
ID
170943
Comment

I agree with you, but I think that it's *fear* of losing advertising dollars to a paper that they can't beat on quality (at least not so far), and can't *run out of town* with bullying tactics. I mean, JFP wants to maximize advertising revenue, but I don't see them engaging in a lot of bizarre tactics to sell ads. To me, wacko corporate behavior generally = someone at the top acting emotionally. And, in this case, I think that emotion is fear. Or, maybe they really think that bullying is easier than just *doing their jobs well*, and they are just lazy.

Author
kate
Date
2006-09-19T09:06:42-06:00
ID
170944
Comment

Oh it's not fear of losing advertising revenue - they've grown ad revenue every year running. Hell, last year was one of the most profitable years in quite a few. It's simply greed - wanting MORE of it and being willing to run those competing for the dollars out of town, if possible. I mean, if you really think about it, the TDN plan is GREAT business. It may not be moral, it may not be the "right" thing to do, but if they had pulled it off, it would have been fantastic for them.

Author
imajeep
Date
2006-09-19T09:13:30-06:00
ID
170945
Comment

I know, a friend of mine worked with Newhouse in Alexandria and came up with the plan for him. Explained the good points of the plan to me for them and yeah, if it works its a good money winner for them. 2 years ago they could've pulled it off. Now there are a few free pubs that can actually band together. If this has been in the days of Planet or Mojo, that would've worked.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-09-19T09:17:26-06:00
ID
170946
Comment

Where I'm from, we call this behavior "A FEAR FACTOR." The Jackson Free Press is kicking butt and taking names through good and fair journalism. The stories are told by fact and evidence. I enjoy the exchange of the many who blog - even when our opinions are different. They are trying to "un-ring the bell" but it will not happen. Hang in there!

Author
justjess
Date
2006-09-19T09:45:23-06:00
ID
170947
Comment

We're hangin', justjess. I truly think Mr. Newhouse is under-estimating the loyalty of the readers of Jackson's free publications. He hasn't been in town all that long, after all. It's funny, any anti-competitive plan is a "good" plan if you can get away with it. Sure, Mr. Newhouse's Gannett cronies would be slapping him on the back if all the local media had just rolled over and sheepishly climbed up in those green boxes. He then would control (and count) other media's circulation, as jeep points out, and then be on his merry way to controlling the advertising market. Of course, it's about advertising. That's why so many real-estate folks and other advertisers are upset. If one monopolistic company controls the rates, then businesses are hurt—and ultimately the consumer. That could also be why the AG is interested, but I'm just guessing on that one.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T12:35:10-06:00
ID
170948
Comment

This might be a good point to mention something very important: the combined circulation of MIPA alliance members is over 300,000 a month. Todd has the exact figure, I think. It would be a nice corporate coup to figure out how to take a bunch of that out at once, as well as be in control of it, eh?

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T12:37:34-06:00
ID
170949
Comment

That is why alot of my clients, mortgage companies, do not advertise in the real estate section of CL. The ad rates are so high that unless they are very big, they can't afford the rates.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-09-19T12:38:12-06:00
ID
170950
Comment

Well, they could get even higher, if folks aren't careful.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T12:38:59-06:00
ID
170951
Comment

To advertise a used car for sale for a week is a whopping $140 dollars. Ridiculous and robbery! That's why I use the JFP Free Classifieds!

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-09-19T12:43:19-06:00
ID
170952
Comment

And it's also important to note that their circulation figures are statewide. They reported themselves a few months back that their Jackson circulation is 22,000.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T12:45:12-06:00
ID
170953
Comment

Jeep wrote: What the TDN would allow for is the CL to have a fairly accurate "in-house" number of the competing papers actual distribution and exposure which they could compare with their own products when selling ad space. "See, here, Mr Advertisier: The CL hits 100,000 on any given day, whereas the JFP hits a mere 20,000." First, Jeep, great discussion. Very interesting to me, in particular. :-) As for the quote above, you're on the right track, although the truth is they could say that anyway, because the argument isn't really about how many you can print (or, even, under a controlled or forced model, how many you distribute) -- but, indeed, how many get picked up and actually read. So, one reason why I think it's important not to allow a company like Gannett even the *appearance* of having a controlling hand in your distribution is that even if they don't measure these things accurately, you're giving the salesperson the opportunity to pitch it like..."Mr. Advertiser...I know you're fond of advertising in 65 and Kickin' Magazine, but did you know that the C-L actually *distributes* 65 and Kickin' in 200 locations around town? And do you know what? No one picks it up!" Note that their assertion need not be *true* (or even *measured*, for that matter) in order for it to have credibility in a sales meeting, since any publication working with TDN has already ceded a certain amount of control to the big guy, and the advertiser isn't likely to drive around checking all the boxes to see whether that assertion has merit. (Plus, there's no accounting for the possibility that the TDN box itself is a hindrance to distribution -- the doors on the TDN box might be too heavy for 65 and Kickin's core readership, or that other such factors...like the location of the TDN box at the store, what else is in the box, etc....might play a part as well. :-) So, being in the TDN box could have drawbacks aside from the cost to the publisher...in my opinion, it's better for 65 and Kickin' to be in its own rack...with a big, "kickin'" logo, so that everyone who wants one can find it easily and notice on their own that it flies off the newsstand. :-) This is also the core problem with *forced circulation* -- ala Litter Ledgers(TM) -- because they're going for a pure distribution play instead of focusing on generating *readership* (or any level of consumer demand) for the publication. With subscriptions, you know that your publication has been requested from you at least once within the past six months or so and that your reader is, presumably, motivated enough to be willing to pay for home delivery. That's a strong message for an advertiser. With controlled circulation (our type), we know that each copy is picked up by someone who makes a *conscious decision* to read our publication, because they walked over to a stand and picked it up. With a Litter Ledger(TM), it's much more difficult to gauge your actual readership. The number of Litter Ledgers(TM) they throw into yards -- their "distribution" -- may have *little to no* relationship to the actual number of readers, because those readers have in no way self-selected either via a subscription or by deciding to walk over to a free stand and pick up the paper. So, in that case, my guess is that it's the C-L's strength (ton's o' cash) working against it, at least to the extend that it's a potentially costly experiment. By paying to create, print and toss Litter Ledgers(TM), they *may* convince non-subscribers to subscribe to the daily, or they may convince non-subscribers that they don't *need* to subscribe because they're already getting the Wal-Mart circular for free. Or, it might just piss 'em off when they're trying to cut the lawn. And note that because the C-L targets non-subscribers (e.g. people not currently interested in paying for home delivery of their product) by littering their lawn, it seems like they're targeting someone with an increased likelihood of responding negatively. Remember, even with "interruptive" advertising media such as radio and TV, at *least* you know the consumer has dialed the station or channel in order to receive the content and the ads that come along with it. But it seems like a nice chunk of change to spend in order to generate an extremely soft, passive media audience -- certainly the most passive reader a newspaper could get. To me, it's certainly an interesting experiment to watch...

Author
iTodd
Date
2006-09-19T13:05:20-06:00
ID
170954
Comment

Oh absolutely, todds. I'm very familiar with the differences between circulation and "reach." Those of us in advertising/marketing know that effective reach is what really matters, but circulation/distribution numbers are what are generally given to advertisers. It really gets hairy when you have people-who I honestly think don't know any better-mixing up their terms. Telling the advertiser that you will reach 100,000 is simply not true. Your distribution is always going to be greater than your effective reach. And, yes, we're seeing eye to eye on the idea of controlled circulation. You guys do a wonderful job of that and your numbers are very, very good - and accurate. It's plainly obvious that John wants to keep you guys as a controlled circulation, just changing the definition of "controlled" in this context :) . I don't think he wants to snuff anyone out, really, because I'll tell you this for sure: The CL doesn't view the JFP as "competition." To them, you guys aren't a newspaper, you are what amounts to a community newsletter. Not even in the same category, as far as they're concerned. But what is true, beyond a doubt, is the fact that they want the advertising money that is spent with you to go to them. That was true for VIP, and you see what happened there. Speaking of the "Litter Ledgers," NE Jackson is an odd market to me. I noticed during my tenure at the CL that people in Madison County and Rankin County absolutely LOVED their free Tuesday papers, whereas most people in the NEJ area considered them, as you say, "litter." It's a very odd dynamic.

Author
imajeep
Date
2006-09-19T13:30:51-06:00
ID
170955
Comment

The CL doesn't view the JFP as "competition." To them, you guys aren't a newspaper, you are what amounts to a community newsletter. Not even in the same category, as far as they're concerned. But what is true, beyond a doubt, is the fact that they want the advertising money that is spent with you to go to them. I believe you, jeep, because you clearly know of which you speak, and I'm thrilled you've joined the discussion. But that attitude confuses me: From a business standpoint in publishing, competition *is* advertising. So it would be odd not to consider us "competition," if they are obsessed with getting our advertising. See what I mean? And clearly we're "competition" on the editorial/readership front. We're kicking their a$$es on Jackson news coverage, which in turn ups our readership, which in turn increases our advertising. I'm not disagreeing; I just think it's an odd attitude (perhaps corporate?) to downplay us as "competition," while doing everything they can to hurt us. That would be disingenuous at the very least. And it's really too bad that they don't think of themselves as a "community newspaper." I don't think of them of that, either—and to me being called that is a mighty compliment. Personally, I think of them as a corporate daily, and they earn that label every single day. Newhouse's house ad Sunday cemented it.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T13:40:09-06:00
ID
170956
Comment

Oh, I just noticed you said "community newsletter." That, frankly, cracks me the hell up. Thanks for sharing. ;-D

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T13:44:06-06:00
ID
170957
Comment

I agree with Donna and Kingfish that the consumers AND businesses will benefit from more players on the field. The prices for ads (both classified and regular) in the Clarion-LEdger are ridiculously high. They get away with it in part because they are perceived as the only market. I don't want to cut into JFP revenues either, but I would really like to see craigslist.org take off in Jackson. It has become THE place to go for jobs and housing in major cities like New York, San Fran, etc. and it is cheap -- free for job seekers and housing ads and a small fee for employers to post.

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-09-19T13:44:06-06:00
ID
170958
Comment

Laurel, Craig's List would not be good for local publications, or Jackson. Please understand that. We have free classifieds that can be the same thing—if people will think of it the same and really use them. Remember: Keep it local.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T13:45:43-06:00
ID
170959
Comment

I also find it kind of pathetic that the publisher of C-L has to whine about being investigated by the Attorney General. If I were publisher I wouldn't be the one to tell people that fact. Besides which, they clearly mis-represented the JFP in addition to trying to pull a monopoly. Poor babies!!!

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-09-19T13:46:19-06:00
ID
170960
Comment

What's weird is that their news arm isn't reporting it. Reminds one of the Meridian lawsuit they didn't tell us about during the campaign, eh?

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T13:47:30-06:00
ID
170961
Comment

Oh, I agree with you. It's really a confusion of stance between news and advertising. Trust me when I say that John considers you competition. Not competition for readership, for news, or anything like that, but simply for dollars. So what you have is John telling everyone to take money from you guys ruthlessly, and then telling everyone that you guys don't matter. It was very odd to hear/say that we are competing with the JFP for advertising dollars, but at the same time saying that you guys weren't/aren't our competition. It really made no sense: either you are or you aren't, and I'll tell you for sure - you are. I think you can tell from my posts that I didn't get along with a few people over there: we can just say we had differing opinions, and I can't work for people I consider dummies :).

Author
imajeep
Date
2006-09-19T13:48:46-06:00
ID
170962
Comment

I hear what you're saying. It sounds like we're really in agreement here. They're talking out both sides of their mouth. ;-) Hey, and we're no dummies.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T13:50:14-06:00
ID
170963
Comment

it's interesting to hear your take on craigslist, Donna. Do you know of areas or regions in which it has had a negative impact on weeklies? Is that why you don't think it's a good idea? My experience of craigslist in the bay area was that it was generally perceived as a populist tool for exchange and community development, especially in areas where housing and employment "broker services" tended to overprice and dominate.

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-09-19T13:55:33-06:00
ID
170964
Comment

Laurel, probably every place where it's successful. And we'd like to fill that niche for the way you describe it as a "populist tool." Todd is working on ways to help us really expand into that space. jeep, I'd love to hear your take on Mr. Newhouse saying in his letter that they shouldn't have to discuss TDN publicly because it is their private business matter. Do you find that odd, considering how many competitors his plan affects?

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-19T14:03:42-06:00
ID
170965
Comment

jeep, I'd love to hear your take on Mr. Newhouse saying in his letter that they shouldn't have to discuss TDN publicly because it is their private business matter. Do you find that odd, considering how many competitors his plan affects? Well, it's tough to say, really. The businessman in me says that no, he is not required to disclose any information about TDN publicly, nor should he until absolutely everything is ironed out and the entire process is a go. However, the business that he is in requires you to have local support from both regular citizens, small business owners, and the decision-makers of large businesses in the area. The only way you can build support is through trust, and you don't gain trust through secrecy. Secrecy begs questions and breeds suspicions, and it can eventually blow up in your face, as it has done to the CL. If he had come out and discussed his plan with all of the independent publishers and had taken the time to actually formulate a compelling argument as well as benefits and honest assistance to the independent publishers, things may have gone more smoothly. The entire thing was kept behind a curtain and it was rushed. More importantly, businesses were flat-out LIED to about not only the nature of the TDN venture, but also about the support from independent publishers for it. So, long-winded though I am, what I just typed can be summarized as He doesn't have to, by any means, but he should have from the start. He should have had a solid business plan for it to present to IPs, outlining his plans, how it would help them, and what the CL was prepared to do to assist them and support them, instead of trying to weasel and sneak around." I'm reminded of a book I read a long time ago called The Marketing Playbook. I won't go into exact details, because it would take me an hour to type it out, but John should have tried to run a Platform Play instead of taking on a whole slew of competitors in a Drag Race :).

Author
imajeep
Date
2006-09-19T14:15:26-06:00
ID
170966
Comment

Laurel, probably every place where it's successful. And we'd like to fill that niche for the way you describe it as a "populist tool." Todd is working on ways to help us really expand into that space. To be fair to craigslist, it is a great tool. It so happens that a lot of newsweeklies didn't see it coming in their markets, and their classifieds have been decimated as a result. Whereas 5 years ago people would crowd around the Village Voice or Bay Guardian to look for a place to live, now *many* of them (not all) go to craigslist in those markets. So they're feeling some pain. In Jackson, I think things are a little different -- the ideal solution would spill from the web to the print edition and back again. I'm working on it... :-) - T.

Author
iTodd
Date
2006-09-19T15:32:35-06:00
ID
170967
Comment

In Jackson, I think things are a little different -- the ideal solution would spill from the web to the print edition and back again. I'm working on it... :-) The problem with Jackson is getting "sellers" to actually utilize the service. It seems Jackson lags behind severly in terms of utilizing the internet to sell products and services locally. I've been looking for a place in Fondren or Belhaven for months (actually have found one, thanks JFP), but the only real player for up-to-date real estate are the CL Classifieds. If more landlords/property managers would put their available properties SOMEWHERE on the internet with pictures, rent, and contact information, it would make life so much easier.

Author
imajeep
Date
2006-09-19T15:41:07-06:00
ID
170968
Comment

Yeah, and that's partly something we have to overcome...we need to build relationships with the decisionmakers who could see a benefit from online advertising...so far that's pretty uphill considering how much time we have to spend getting them to consider a weekly. To us it's category busting...first, we have to build the relationships, then convince people who aren't net-savvy that it even exists as a medium, then we have to convince them the demo and numbers are good and there are motivated consumers out here, then we have to turn that into sales. :-) Hey...at least "Jackass II" gets it. :-)

Author
iTodd
Date
2006-09-19T15:56:33-06:00
ID
170969
Comment

Folks posting to this thread may not remember the Hearst publishing empire of about 50 years ago (of course, not an empire by today's standards). Greed, retribution, retalliation, monoply were all adjectives that fit their publications' common practices. Gannett is simply taking a page from that kind of behavior, for, as posted, advertising dollars. "GREAT business" as a moniker for this kind of scheme, I cannot agree with. When there are big dollars involved, in a business sense it, to me, would be better to spend those $$$ on promoting/producing a better product, rather than budgeting to send guys to corporate headquarters of supermarkets and the like, to distort the truth so as to wipe out viable community papers. What they don't visualize, again in my opinion, is they are jerking the rug out from beneath their own feet, since these tactics are not gaining them circulation. Us little papers need to promote this scheme as Mafia crime. "Hey, you wanna use this rack? Pay me, or else!" You know, what the hell can they do if we put our stuff on those racks without paying? Let's think about it.

Author
DistroDame
Date
2006-09-19T23:33:11-06:00
ID
170970
Comment

Although I'm highly conservative and the JFP isn't it still runs circles around the Clarion "News a Day Late" Ledger. Way to go Donna!

Author
Buford Pusser
Date
2006-09-20T08:02:56-06:00
ID
170971
Comment

Distro: I'm going to assume you're talking about William Randolph Hearst when you say Hearst, as that's the first person that comes to mind - I hope I'm not wrong :) - who owned the New York Journal. Yellow Journalism, in fact, is a term that was developed directly from a comic strip published in that paper, if I recall correctly. You're correct about the greed, retribution, and retalliation part behind Hearst's empire, but I think it was more a product of unprecedented sensationalism in supposedly "proper" journalism that grew his business as far as it did - at least primarily. As far as my comment on GREAT business, please don't confuse "great business" with Right and Proper Business. Two different things. Anything your business can do to gain markets hare and snuff out the competition is great business, regardless of if it's right or wrong. And, typically, the only question asked is "can we get away with it?" I'm not endorsing these practices, I'm simply saying that they make sense. And your comment about promoting/producing a better product is true, but did I mention above that there is almost zero internal critical evaluation of the products offered? Remember, to them, the products are the best around, and it must be the advertiser's/public's fault for not seeing it. They throw their entire weight behind a failing product without actually addressing the issues of WHY it's failing. Case in point: House to Home Magazine and MKids. These two products are basically trash, and we were force fed b.s. about them in an attempt to save them. There was never a true attempt to fix the real issues - circulation, visibility, layout, content, etc. Screw the problems, just build the advertising revenue from them any way you can.

Author
imajeep
Date
2006-09-20T08:18:00-06:00
ID
170972
Comment

Todd, thanks for that comment on craigslist. I agree that Jackson is underdeveloped as far as folks using the internet for jobs and housing. But I do wonder, if craigslist can offer such low or no cost options, is it feasible to try and compete? I mean, is it too far of a reach for JFP given how much focus goes into the news & content of the paper/website. The thing on craigslist, is, it is an entity that exists only to promote these kinds of ads and connections. It's its own entity. And it doesn't seem like the JFP gets a whole lot of those kinds of ads anyway...am I making any sense here? The bay area still has the Express and the Guardian which are both fat alt weeklies. my two cents, anyhow.

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-09-20T09:03:57-06:00
ID
170973
Comment

I still say it's all fear based - but, I've been reading *way* too much Yoga Philosophy, and I'm in a frame of mind to think that most things can be traced back to fear. Greed = fear of not having enough, not being enough, not being good enough, etc. A bit of a stretch for this discussion, I realize, but I still think this whole crappy TDN scheme is fear based. Todd, you've got an uphill battle ahead of you, trying to get folks to move to more of an online world. Heck, I'm still trying to teach half the people I do business with to use the "Reply All" button on their email. That said, I think there is still a huge opportunity for *someone* to become the "CraigsList/eBay" of the Jackson Metro Area. Simply because those sites *aren't* serving Jackson right now, so the niche is still available.

Author
kate
Date
2006-09-20T09:43:37-06:00
ID
170974
Comment

Um... Kate, doesn't Craigslist serve Jackson? Last time I checked we were on there...

Author
Rico
Date
2006-09-20T09:50:18-06:00
ID
170975
Comment

I think Kate & I mean serving in the sense of being used enough to reach a critical mass. The city itself is on there but the site is not used a lot, compared to other cities where it is the norm for all housing and job postings

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-09-20T09:51:55-06:00
ID
170976
Comment

What Laurel said. Theoretically, serving the area. In reality, not so much. I'm very jealous of my San Francisco friends who can put furniture on eBay, with the requirement that whoever buys it has to come and pick it up. That kind of thing is just not happening here, yet. At least not that I can see.

Author
kate
Date
2006-09-20T09:54:28-06:00
ID
170977
Comment

I like being able to sell or buy something for free - I mean, come on, as a consumer that is a pretty good deal. And I don't think the higher ups at craigslist have the same kinds of mission/goal as Gannett corp. But anyway the issue is moot until people use it, right? Wonder if that's in part where tight housing markets push people to the sites...here is easy enough to find cheap housing. I loved also the barter section of craigslist. I once traded guitar lessons for private instruction in Tae Kwan Do

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-09-20T10:03:11-06:00
ID
170978
Comment

Well, have you tried it here? I like Craigslist a lot, and have used it successfully (albeit for something in Atlanta). It is free, and it never hurts to try...

Author
Rico
Date
2006-09-20T10:08:08-06:00
ID
170979
Comment

Actually, I have tried it here. Bought a dryer from somebody who posted some stuff the week before a garage sale. Got a good deal as it was his grandma's and she hardly used it. :-)

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-09-20T10:39:15-06:00
ID
170980
Comment

Todd, thanks for that comment on craigslist. I agree that Jackson is underdeveloped as far as folks using the internet for jobs and housing. But I do wonder, if craigslist can offer such low or no cost options, is it feasible to try and compete? I mean, is it too far of a reach for JFP given how much focus goes into the news & content of the paper/website. That's the $54,000 question. We have the advantage of a brand and a print product that might be able to provide some synergy that could serve our market, particularly when you consider how many people might still prefer print to web, or would see *both* as a viable option for reaching the most people. Also, it's worth noting that Craigslist *does* make money -- they charge a fair bit for employment ads. It's the personal ads that go up for free (and, I think, most or all of the real estate ads). The thing on craigslist, is, it is an entity that exists only to promote these kinds of ads and connections. It's its own entity. And it doesn't seem like the JFP gets a whole lot of those kinds of ads anyway...am I making any sense here? The bay area still has the Express and the Guardian which are both fat alt weeklies. my two cents, anyhow. One model in the industry is the Austin Chronicle, which has offered free ads in their paper to individual for 20+ years. And they have a pretty nice home-grown app for it... http://classifieds.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/ There's also a group of alts that are banding together to bring out a multi-market classified product that lets people post for free online and pay a nominal charge to be on the Web. That's my favorite approach so far...example is Colorado Spring Independent, which is a member of their group... http://theindypages.com Anybody like any of those? :-) - T.

Author
iTodd
Date
2006-09-20T10:40:43-06:00
ID
170981
Comment

BTW, by "personal ads" above I mean Craig's is free for person-to-person transactions of all kinds, not just dating personals.

Author
iTodd
Date
2006-09-20T10:41:48-06:00
ID
170982
Comment

I don't think that craiglist charges for the real estate ads - at least, they didn't use to. That's a big plus when you have all those roomate situations in a big city. I think for jobs they charge companies who post for wanting an employee but they don't charge for individuals posting resumes looking for someone to hire them. I looked at the sites you showed, they are good. I'm used to craigslist but that doesn't mean I wouldn't change if there were a viable alternative. I just don't get why they can't co-exist with the JFP (not trying to be dense here, though I may be). Craiglist is a case where someone had a great idea and it caught on. I'm loathe to give it up because I saw so concretely how it shaped the bay area community in a positive way. Like I said, though, given a viable alternative I might just change my habits. :-)

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-09-20T11:06:50-06:00
ID
170983
Comment

Laurel, Craig's List is out to make money just like any other service. There is only so much classified advertising to go around. If they become the go-to service for "free" ads, they will also cart a lot of classifieds dollars out of Jackson, and out of the market for locally owned publications. Put it this way: It's like going to Wal-Mart for groceries, instead of McDade's. If you want that kind of experience here, I ask that y'all help us create one.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-20T11:10:39-06:00
ID
170984
Comment

The CL seems to be an unprofessional establishment. The paper has a very conservative corporate vibe. A professional city newspaper should not have any vibe (left or right). It's simply to supposed to report the news, period. Maybe they should try benchmarking. To top it off, this current scandal just makes them appear even worse.

Author
Designer23
Date
2006-09-20T11:28:26-06:00
ID
170985
Comment

I think comparing craigslist to Walmart is a bit unfair, Donna. Craigslist *is* the McDade's of the bay area. Like I said, it grew in reaction to companies charging a fortune for housing and employment placement. It offered very low cost or no cost options with zero advertising. This is a value to people, not just to the owners of craigslist. It might be hard for someone who hasn't lived in the bay area to comprehend the community's ownership and cultural connection to this website--it's value to the community. Okay, but take it out of the bay area, and then I begin to get with you. Perhaps your point is Jackson needs it's own version of craigslist, which may be. The other thing I'm curious about is, do you envision a Jackson in which there are *no* national chains? I.e., no Kroger, no Target, no nothing? Is this the best model for economic development? Even in the biggest cities (wiht lots of local businesses) you can find Office Depot. I think many consumers and business owners rely on having choices. I'm honestly asking...

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-09-20T11:31:34-06:00
ID
170986
Comment

I'm not saying it hasn't been valuable to people—a lot of people argue the same thing about Wal-Mart's service to the community. BUT when you know more about the "back end" of it, then you understand what a threat it is to local media. I'm not saying in any kind of illegal or unethical way; what I am saying is that we have the opportunity to recreate that energy here in Jackson, with the benefits staying local, if everyone will get on board and help out. As you know, it's about the populist effort. Obviously, there will be national chains. But there are national chains, and there are national chains. Some can be very harmful to local business due to their willingness to do about anything to squelch competition. Wal-Mart is a good example of that. (On the media front, the Gannett Corp.)

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-20T11:41:20-06:00
ID
170987
Comment

Here are some more details about Craigslist, a $10 million company, partially owned by eBay. It serves over 4 billion page views per month, putting it in 30th place overall among Internet companies world wide, 7th place overall among Internet companies in the United States (per Alexa.com on July 8, 2006), to 10 million unique visitors. With over 10 million new classified ads each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over 500,000 new job listings each month, making it one of the top job boards in the world. [1] The classified advertisements range from traditional buy/sell ads and community announcements, to personal ads and even "erotic services". Although the company does not disclose financial information, journalists have speculated that its annual revenue approached $10 million in 2004.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-20T11:48:52-06:00
ID
170988
Comment

All, we are revealing in our print edition today that Clarion-Ledger Editorial Director David Hampton has refused to allow the Mississippi Independent Publishers Alliance to publish a letter to the editor in his paper disputing the accusations his publisher made against us in a full-page letter on Sunday. He said it is because the accusations were made in an "ad," and not in stories in the paper. How 'bout them apples?

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-20T12:08:37-06:00
ID
170989
Comment

Wonder if they would let you guys ake out an ad of your own? With a discount of course as a professional courtesy...

Author
Rico
Date
2006-09-20T12:16:54-06:00
ID
170990
Comment

Also, for those who haven't been there, C-L has replaced their forum with a new "enhanced" version- the regular posters are up in arms! I'd expect a few extra visitors on here today...

Author
Rico
Date
2006-09-20T12:20:47-06:00
ID
170991
Comment

Well, they should allow us to take one out at the same cost that Mr. Newhouse paid, don't you think? And for the record, that "ad" wasn't marked "advertisement," which is the standard way to show that a text-filled space is an "ad." It was called an "open letter." Perhaps he ran it as a house ad in order to get past the standards of truth required in letters, stories and editorials? The problem, though, is that ads can't just contain unfounded accusations against individuals and businesses, either. There is a full-page ad in the JFP today, signed by all MIPA publishers, responding to Mr. Newhouse. We will post it online shortly.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-20T12:22:59-06:00
ID
170992
Comment

Yes, Rico, and they trashed their forum history. I started a thread about that here.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-20T12:24:24-06:00
ID
170993
Comment

So, how much would it cost us to respond with an ad? Thousands I'm sure. Let's remember that word-of-mouth is the strongest marketing tool these days.

Author
emilyb
Date
2006-09-20T12:26:16-06:00
ID
170994
Comment

Right, em. Word of mouth has what has helped free publications survive this thing so far. Please keep it up. Tell everyone you know about Mr. Newhouse's letter, the accusations in it, and that they are not allowing us to respond. Thank the businesses for carrying the JFP and other alliance members. Ask those with a green TDN box nicely to please start allowing local publications back into their businesses.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-09-20T12:31:24-06:00
ID
170995
Comment

Since I'm always curious, whenever someone mentions Craigslist, I wonder once again what he/she sees in it that I don't. I am just about to put a few items in JFP's classified - print and online - but thought, well, I'll take another look at craigslist, why not? Well, more than half the listings in the 'autos' section are spam - ads for auto loans, one saying I can buy my dream car for $100, $29 down, 0$/month for all makes and models of Hondas, someone trying to get me to join a lawsuit against lemons, etc. I just want to sell my car. It's free? So what? I'm willing to pay money to support excellent local journalism and I believe in supporting local businesses whenever I can. If you don't support them, you won't have them. There's no such thing as a free lunch and never will be and I want JFP to stay and prosper. I grew up in a town without a single national chain, yet could always find anything I wanted at decent prices in local stores which paid decent wages and stocked items made somewhere else but China. WalMart as an alternative? No thanks. Let's hear it for JFP and JFP classifieds!!!

Author
lucdix
Date
2006-09-20T20:08:33-06:00
ID
170996
Comment

Hey all...I'm moving the Craiglist discussion to my JFP 3.0 thread if you're interested.

Author
iTodd
Date
2006-09-21T13:17:17-06:00

Thanks to all our new JFP VIPs!

COVID-19 has closed down the main sources of the JFP's revenue -- concerts, festivals, fundraisers, restaurants and bars. If everyone reading this article gives $5 or more, we should be able to continue publishing through the crisis. Please pay what you can to keep us reporting and publishing.

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