Charleston (S.C.) Facing TDN-Like Scheme; JFP Quoted | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Charleston (S.C.) Facing TDN-Like Scheme; JFP Quoted

The Charleston City Paper recently reported that its city is facing a scheme similar to the Gannett Corp.‘s struggling TDN distribution scheme to control local free-publication distribution in Jackson and other cities. The JFP's Todd Stauffer, who has helped lead a national effort to push back TDN and to educate consumers about the anti-competitive implications, is quoted in the article:

By the time Gannett's box program had made it to Jackson, Miss., the local alternative weekly, the Jackson Free Press, had gotten wind of the trouble ahead. Like Greenville, Gannett's Clarion-Ledger had spawned its own faux alt-weekly, and the JFP bristled at the idea of paying a competitor for space, says publisher Todd Stauffer. The estimated cost for the space was $10,000 a year, but had the potential to reach more than $20,000 as more of the Gannett boxes proliferated.

"We were convinced it was more an attempt to control the space than to profit from it," he says.

What concerned Stauffer was that, when approaching long-faithful distributors about the boxes, they had been told by Gannett that JFP was on board. The weekly contacted distributors to correct Gannett's assertion, but the feisty alt didn't stop there. It developed a blog chronicling its fight against the boxes and established a petition for JFP readers to sign in support of the paper. Some distributors came back over time while others told Gannett to take the large boxes back as soon as they arrived, Stauffer says.

Recognizing that clutter may be a legitimate concern for some distributors, Stauffer and the publishers of other publications developed the Mississippi Independent Publisher's Alliance and distributed their own consolidated boxes. While the boxes have slowed distribution in some spots, with space for only a small percentage of what would fit in a traditional rack, their proliferation in gas stations and shopping centers in suburban areas has actually expanded JFP's reach.

"It's a net positive for us," Stauffer says. "It's kind of centralized our distribution for those spots."

Previous Comments

ID
171015
Comment

Oooo, I just love being called "feisty"! ;-) Speaking of TDN, have y'all noticed how many of their big-a$$ boxes have green-and-white "for rent" signs in many of the windows because they can't get major non-Gannett publications to sign on? I almost feel sorry for them, but I don't, of course. That's what they get for trying to tread into other people's business. Remember, you can read our Goliath blog for background info on this silliness. And remember: If you see one of The Clarion-Ledger's big multi-window green or blue boxes, please ask the store owner to go back to allowing locally owned publications back into the business. Be sure to point out how many of the TDN slots are empty, and how many of the boxes are not in great shape. (Try opening the bottom door on them.) MIPA boxes—the good guys—are red and gray. And thanks again everyone for your help and support of locally owned publications.

Author
ladd
Date
2007-09-10T11:00:03-06:00
ID
171016
Comment

Well Charleston S.C. has a "fiesty" protptype - Ladd & her JFP to pattern their movement after. You would think that they would have better things to do than to try to control through bullying and taking over. There is enough money, space and place for those who produce good work.

Author
justjess
Date
2007-09-10T11:13:19-06:00
ID
171017
Comment

I agree with you. It's weird. But Gannett has long tried to "compete" in ways like this, rather than focusing on quality journalism. Read Richard McCord's book, "Chain Gang: One Newspaper versus the Gannett Empire," if you want more of their anti-free-enterprise blood and gore.

Author
ladd
Date
2007-09-10T11:38:18-06:00
ID
171018
Comment

One wonders how much longer vendor distribution is gonna matter, media is all headed to the web, and the web savvy publishers will survive, while the dinosaurs go extinct. Now only if the JFP were just a lil bigger :P

Author
GLewis
Date
2007-09-10T11:41:51-06:00
ID
171019
Comment

No, vendor distribution will matter for a long time for "non-dailies," as The Clarion-Ledger calls its efforts to compete with publications other than its paid daily newspaper, which the Gannett Corp. seems to know is a dying breed. What is happening is a steady shift to daily news on the Web and more in-depth and specialized stories and content in freely distributed non-daily publications—which is what the Ledger is trying to control here. They want to shrink the number of spots that non-dailies can distribute to, clearly hoping more people will pick theirs up if so. (Again, they pay scant attention to quality and giving people a reason to pick them up.) If they can control the distribution of non-daily competitors, they clearly think they can monopolize the non-daily market. Oh, and we're the same size as The Clarion-Ledger on the Web, with the same potential reach, don't forget. And they know it well. That's why they've tried to copy so much of what launched doing online five years ago. ;-)

Author
ladd
Date
2007-09-10T12:00:13-06:00
ID
171020
Comment

This part from the above link about "The Chain Gang" is interesting stuff to ponder in the media-literacy vein: Startling case histories of the dubious tactics practiced by Gannett, unsparing insights into the newspaper industry, and harsh conclusions all come together in the dramatic story of these two men's efforts to save the small Green Bay daily from being obliterated at the hands of the nation's largest newspaper chain. Their success is a metaphor for one of the oldest triumphs of the world: that of David over Goliath. "McCord has done something marvelous with this. He's taken a deeply disturbing nationwide trend and put it on a small midwestern stage with real characters. The Chain Gang's message needs to be heard by as many Americans as read newspapers. Already Gannett's monopoly tactics have impoverished communities across the country. McCord is one man fighting back, coolly, rationally, creatively, and stubbornly. Let's join him."—Michael Shnayerson, Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair "More graphically than almost any other available record of the era, the Gannett piracy is what has happened to this country, tolled where the price is truly paid, in the lives of communities and people."—Roger Morris, winner of the Investigative Reporters and Editors' National Award for Distinguished Investigative Journalism "Richard McCord's The Chain Gang takes the losing battle for the soul of American newspapers from the euphoric accounts on financial pages to show what corporate news chains can mean in human terms to the people and the vitality of the victimized cities and towns. His is a unique account of the power and depredations of the Gannett Chain under its glib empire builder, Allen Neuharth. It goes behind the facade of slick public relations and financial killings for investors to show what happens when a ruthless and ambitious wheeler-dealer gets control of our news."—Ben H. Bagdikian, media critic and Pulitzer Prize winner Folks, the JFP isn't the first media outlet to warn about the dangers of the Gannett monopoly. People really need to learn the full extent of the damage this kind of unfair competition and media monopoly can render to a community. The evidence is all around us here if people will take note. And, fortunately, many are.

Author
ladd
Date
2007-09-10T12:03:25-06:00
ID
171021
Comment

Ladd by "size" I mean broader coverage etc.....If you guys did a wire service "summary" that would probably fall into place, seeing as how that is more or less what CL does. I quit subscribing to the CL like 7 years ago and I'm sure more people are doing the same. I understand your advertising model needs distribution, no complaints against it but it just looks to me that causing enmity in the industry will work against Gannet in the long run. I was tickled that when I fed the family at Ihop last weekend the JFP was the available newspaper.

Author
GLewis
Date
2007-09-10T12:14:34-06:00
ID
171022
Comment

Oh, I hear you on broader coverage. For instance, I would LOVE to cover Rankin and Madison county politics and government, but I don't have the resources. Yet. Otherwise, I agree with everything you said. Gannett is already causing enmity here, and thanks about IHOP. ;-)

Author
ladd
Date
2007-09-10T12:17:56-06:00
ID
171023
Comment

"for rent" signs in many of the windows because they can't get major non-Gannett publications to sign on? I almost feel sorry for them, but I don't, of course. I hope they, CL, lost money and continue to lose money on their evil scheme to shield Truth, Facts, and Real Reporting.

Author
blu_n_a_redstate
Date
2007-09-11T12:36:55-06:00
ID
171024
Comment

Send them the iTodd!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-09-11T18:13:37-06:00
ID
171025
Comment

If you guys did a wire service "summary" that would probably fall into place, seeing as how that is more or less what CL does. I like the sound of that. Is that feasible?

Author
L.W.
Date
2007-09-12T08:34:35-06:00
ID
171026
Comment

Oh, and we're the same size as The Clarion-Ledger on the Web, with the same potential reach, don't forget. And they know it well. That's why they've tried to copy so much of what launched doing online five years ago. ;-) Back to the Home PageTop of the page.Post comment. Posted by: ladd on Sep 10, 07 | 1:00 pm Can someone enlighten me on how do the news media know how large they are on the internet . Is it some way that it is counted or is it a independent audit . And last how would your company know how large there site is do they publish their findings and do you publish your and where. Thank you

Author
smooth
Date
2007-12-10T16:59:24-06:00
ID
171027
Comment

There are various ways to measure *traffic* online, and it doesn't do a lot of good to publish it because it changes constantly, as you can imagine. We used to post updates on our traffic on the site all the time because it was growing so fast. Honestly, I haven't looked lately, but Todd probably does/knows because we sell ads based it. But let me clarify my point that you're quoting: Everybody is the same size on the Web. We have the same potential reach by doing nothing more than posting a site (of course, it takes more to get traffic, such as good conversation, breaking stories, investigative pieces, and so on). However, the Web is the great equalizer between large dailies and smaller papers as more news goes online because we don't have to pay more to print and distribute the paper to a larger pool online. Our potential reach is absolutely the same. That was never the case before. Thus, it's why you see dailies doing really stupid things like call themselves "information centers" and giving a blog to every Joe and Suzie in site. They're scared of the competitors online who don't need their resources to give 'em hell. And that's a very good thing.

Author
ladd
Date
2007-12-10T18:08:01-06:00
ID
171028
Comment

Can someone enlighten me on how do the news media know how large they are on the internet. Is it some way that it is counted or is it a independent audit. You can check out alexa.com. Go to the front page on the site and all the way over to the right, type in the URL of the website and it will give you that website's rank in terms of traffic. JFP's site is ranked 435,541. Given that there are millions of websites out there, that's a pretty good number.

Author
golden eagle '97
Date
2007-12-10T19:06:33-06:00
ID
171029
Comment

Thank you Golden Eagle for the info.I will go to that site an look at the numbers. I believe it must be a independent web site and not influence by no one. and thank you Ms. Ladd

Author
smooth
Date
2007-12-11T08:32:26-06:00
ID
171030
Comment

You're welcome, smooth. I hope my point is clear: The Internet is the great equalizer, or can and will be, for smaller, independent publications such as ours that put a lot of effort into good work (and search-engine optimization). ;-)

Author
ladd
Date
2007-12-11T08:49:41-06:00
ID
171031
Comment

Sorry, just throwing this out on an old thread--but Harper's has a small blurb about Gannett's continuing financial problems: http://harpers.org/archive/2008/03/hbc-90002627

Author
David McCarty
Date
2008-03-14T12:38:22-06:00

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus