Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Network TV offers lessons for newspapers

Have you heard about the demise of network television? No, it’s nothing insidious like a government mandate or special interest wrangling. It has everything to do with economics.
Many of us still get all of our television — for free — over the airwaves. We get the networks, NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and CW along with public television through the use of an antenna. What the current economic recession has caused network television executives to realize is that their business model has some problems. Over the past couple of years, their advertising revenue has suffered because of the recession. And that’s a big problem because 100 percent of their revenue comes from advertising.
Right now, network television is looking longingly at their cable television cousins and seeing that cable receives not one but two sources of revenue — advertising revenue AND “subscription” revenue.
Cable channels (AMC, The Discovery Channel, TNT, etc.) not only receive revenue from advertisers, they also receive “subscription” payments from cable customers who pay a monthly fee for the privilege of having these cable channels piped into their houses.
So while advertising revenue declines in a down economy, cable channels are much more stabilized by their other revenue stream from subscribers. Network TV is much more vulnerable to the vagaries and ups and downs of the advertising climate.
“What in the heck does this have to do with newspapers?” you may ask.
Newspapers have been acting too much like network television when it comes to their web sites. Newspapers have been posting everything for free for anyone with an “antenna,” i.e., an Internet connection, to come along and consume their product. To subsidize that effort, newspapers sell ads on their web sites. The biggest problem with that is that online advertising revenue does not even come close to paying for all the expenses of reporter and editor salaries, phone bills, utilities, travel expenses, etc., that go into actually creating those stories that everyone is reading for free.

So what's the solution? Find out in my Editor's Notebook in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kuna schedules an open meeting on LID

Kuna City Council members will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. next Tuesday, Jan. 26, at City Hall to meet with landowners participating in the local improvement district.
The purpose of the meeting is “to go over numbers,” according to council member Jeff Lang. The council scheduled the meeting after an hour-and-a-half executive session Tuesday night to discuss “potential litigation.”
Ostensibly, next Tuesday’s meeting is supposed to make up for the deliberations and decision-making that went on during two previous executive sessions last month, after which council members announced that they were going to reduce the LID’s assessment by a couple million bucks and have city ratepayers pick up the difference.
Although council said the meeting is for LID members, the repercussions are huge for every city taxpayer. The general public is invited and encouraged to attend. Let’s hope the council doesn’t go into executive session.

Kuna City Council has a new council president. Find out who it is in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kuna Melba News makes some changes with the New Year

The New Year, for me, has always been a time of thoughtful reflection on the past year and careful consideration of the coming year and the future in general. I’m totally into making New Year’s resolutions and have always felt that the changing of the calendar is as good a time as any for making changes.
Of course, it seems as though we are constantly changing the Kuna Melba News. The newspaper has changed dramatically over the past three years since Nicola and I purchased it in 2006. Most of those changes have been subtle in the moment, almost unnoticeable at the time. We’ve changed the front-page promos several times, we’ve added specialty pages, a calendar, weather, puzzles, color, we even changed the headline font back in 2007 without fanfare. It has all added up, though, to make the Kuna Melba News almost unrecognizable from what it was in 2006.
The coming year will be no different in our desire to change and grow and get better. We picked the New Year to begin some changes immediately.

You can read all about what those changes are and see them for yourself in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

City of Kuna continues to practice secrecy in government

Kuna City Council members have now spent nearly $4 million of taxpayer money behind closed doors.
You might recall that in April, council members went into an executive session for two hours and came out of the session to announce that they had decided to purchase 107 acres of land for $1 million.
Most recently, council members met in executive session twice, once for two hours on Tuesday, Dec. 8, then again for another hour on Tuesday, Dec. 29, to discuss possible solutions to the $27.4 million bill for the new wastewater treatment plant that was supposed to be funded by the local improvement district. Council members came out of the Dec. 29 executive session to announce that they had decided to have the city (i.e., you and me, the taxpayers) pick up $2.8 million of the cost of the final bill.
The very first state law pertaining to open meetings states, “The people of the state of Idaho in creating the instruments of government that serve them, do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies so created. Therefore, the legislature finds and declares that it is the policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.” (Idaho Code 67-2340.)
City Council members clearly formed public policy in secret.

You can read much more of this opinion in my Editor's Notebook in this week's Kuna Melba News.