Six days a week

Media news with a local hook just keeps happening. No matter how much I try to keep the blog centered on tech issues, I find things to report on the journalism front.

The Chronicle’s fellow Pioneer-owned paper, the Herald Journal in Logan, Utah, announced this week that it will stop printing a paper on Mondays. Apparently, the Monday paper was not turning a profit.

The HJ will continue to produce news on Mondays, posting updates online, but no print edition will be inked that day. Publisher Mike Starn, noted in his announcement that the HJ has only been a seven-day news paper for 12 years of its 102-year history.

In related journalism news, MediaNews Group, the second-largest newspaper company in America by circulation, announced today that it will no longer produce Monday editions at six of its California newspapers.

The Reporter (Vacaville, Calif.), Times-Herald (Vallejo) and Times-Standard (Eureka) will stop publishing on Mondays beginning Dec. 19.

These papers were among 23 papers owned by MediaNews that added metered paywalls to their sites in August. As a result of the cutbacks, the papers will be offering their online content for free on Mondays, even to non-subscribers.

The other three papers losing a Monday edition are the Oakland Tribune, Argus (Fremont) and Daily Review (Hayward). These three papers were slated to be consolidated into two, but that decision was reversed by MediaNews’s new CEO John Paton in October.

PaidContent.org reported in September that Paton is a “vocal opponent of using payrolls to increase digital revenue for newspapers.”

Why mention all of this? For one, I think it’s interesting that so many papers are dropping their Monday editions. Mondays are, traditionally, small papers, especially compared to bhe behemoths that land on doorsteps Sunday mornings. That means they have fewer ads in them, which means they make less money.

Secondly — and this is what interests me most — newspapers have come to a point where they are willing to rely on the Web to carry the weight of the news for a day. I’m not talking about the New York Times or Wall Street Journal here. I’m talking about your normal, average-sized local newspaper.

For papers of that size to be willing to rely on the Web as the sole means of distribution, even if it’s only for a day, it means that the Web has reached critical mass. Newspaper honchos, traditionally traditional and resistant to change, have seen at least a small sliver of light.

It gives me hope for the digital future of news at the local scale. There’s lot of work to do to figure out how to make enough money with digital at the heart of a news operation, but it’s a hopeful start.