Economics Media

The Michigan Model For News

Virtually every urban newspaper in Michigan has moved to a “hybrid” delivery model, based on the one introduced by the Detroit Free Press/Detroit News, according to Dennis W. Jeffers, speaking at the Convergence and Society: The Changing Media Landscape (#cconf09) in Reno.

The hybrid model introduced by the Detroit Free Press/News:

  • Th/Fr/Su home delivery
  • “e-press” (PDF-like) only the other days.

Detroit News and Detroit Free Press circulation have (each) declined 5.7%; contrast this with a general decline of 10%. There has been a small shift in revenue from advertisers to readers.

Evidence of the financial challenge (from today’s Editor&Publisher): “Clients [advertisers] have moved away from ROP [run of paper] because of the cost.”

There does appear to be a slow shift in newsroom behavior in Detroit daily newspapers. However, one problem: the average newspaper reader is 55 years old – behavioral change is predictably slow.

Community newspapers — as defined by geography or shared interests — are smaller (circulation 25-30K) and may be weekly, daily or online-only. This class of papers is losing advertising at a slower rate. In Michigan, there are about 250 newspapers (every county but one has a community newspaper) in this category; 200+ are weeklies, according to Carol McGinnis. Readership percentages appear higher than in the urban dailies.

Their emphasis on local news means that they have a unique product – something key to audience in our increasingly competitive information space.

Moving to “online only” papers: Lori F. Brost provides examples including, AnnArborChronicle, AnnArborUpdate, LeslinWeeklyGuardian, GrossePointeToday, TheRapidian, DomeMagazine, SustainableFarmer (MSU), Midland Issues on the Web, MichiganMessenger,, MyAntrim, RainbowMittens, RapidGrowth, ModelD,, LansingOnlineNews, AbsoluteMichigan, GreatLakesEcho, SouthwestLansing, WestMichiganNews (IRE), and “river of news” design (most recent first) that mixes local news with traditional newspaper content (such as Dear Abby). It serves as a portal for Ann Arbor neighborhoods (or it hopes to) with local bloggers. Business model remains an issue.

Sean Baker then turned to radio and television – “broadcast to bandwidth.”

The papers will (unsure of when) be posted on the conference website.











By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.