Chronicle CEO urges print media to adapt
Houston Chronicle publisher and CEO Jack Sweeney addressed what the Chronicle must do in order to stay in business on Wednesday at Lakeside Country Club.
Sweeney said the new world of communication is changing because news is easily available on the Internet and TV, and the paper cannot survive in print alone. The key is to sell enough advertising to pay for the cost of running a large daily newspaper.
"People ask me if the newspaper will be alive 10 years from now, and the answer is no – unless the paper receives new forms of communication along with print such as advertising, endorsements and reading sections," Sweeney said.
As publisher and CEO, Sweeney ensures enough revenue is brought in on sales marketing and works to improve distribution.
"A big part of business in the newspaper industry these days is developing new sections that are quick reads with good information," he said.
The Health section draws attention from people of all ages and blogs extend people’s conversations on any given subject, he said.
"To stay in this business, you have to not only attract, but to keep your audience as well," he said.
With the cost of newsprint skyrocketing up more than 21 percent, the Chronicle was forced to cut their delivery inside a 90-mile radius, Sweeney said. The Chronicle uses more than 115,000 tons of newsprint in a year and the average price runs about $800 a ton.
Another element to staying in business is making sure you have the right people for the job and money takes a heavy toll these days in order to investigate, explore, make recommendations and make endorsements in order to have the best in journalism, he said.
The Chronicle employs 1,500 full-time employees, with 350 in the editorial department. In an attempt run on a balanced budget, the Chronicle has cut more than 150 positions within the last year.
Chron.com averages 90 million page viewers a month and averaged 145 million a month during Hurricane Ike.