Star Ledger Closing Possible By End Of Year

BY  |  Thursday, Jun 27, 2013 4:03pm  |  COMMENTS (29)

Owners of the Star Ledger announced yesterday that the paper would close N.J.’s largest newspaper by year’s end if production unions don’t make concessions.

Star Ledger Closing Possible By End of Year

In a letter to staff, publisher Richard Vezza said the company was “pushed into a corner” by the unions, whose contracts expire in July. Unless there are compromises made by Sept. 27, the paper will shut down.

The paper’s website, nj.com, is owned by Gannett Advance Publicationsand would continue to publish regardless of what fate the Ledger meets. In 2009, the Star Ledger stopped publishing individual county sections on a daily basis. In 2008, the paper said it was on “life-support” and then issued an ultimatum to sell the paper if 200 employees didn’t take a buy out.

More on this story from Philly.com; full text of letter sent to staff from Star Ledger.

29 Comments

  1. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  June 27, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

    it’s a dead business model. they’ll all eventually go by the wayside.

  2. POSTED BY sophomore  |  June 27, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

    This would be sad day for NJ.

    But… good god, Baristanet Staff. At least get some of your facts correct. NJ.com (and The Ledger itself) is owned by Advance Publications (essentially, the Newhouse family) which is the same parent company to Conde Nast, publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, etc.

    And if you’re going to say it’s Gannett (publisher of USAToday and more), at least spell it right. 🙂

  3. POSTED BY paolo  |  June 27, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

    Advance Publications has put more illustrious papers on starvation diets. Their New Orleans Times-Picayune went to a three days a week schedule with a dramatically reduced staff size.

    For all the paper’s problems, its investigative staff has earned a lot of respect. Recent work includes the negligence in the Newark catholic diocese, the Birdsall pay to play deals with politicians, Passaic Valley Sewage corruption, etc.

  4. POSTED BY cathar  |  June 27, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

    That’s a really sloppily written (and edited, dare I say) post above. And this was a “staff” effort? Good grief.

    But since that’s par for the course for Baristanet, please, please don’t tell me, dear Baristas, that you honestly think you could help fill the gap should the Ledger bite the dust. No, you folks can’t. Besides, where would you get approximately half of your basic material then?

    ROC, how on earth, however, would you have any idea what the Star-Ledger’s actual business model is?

  5. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  June 27, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

    It’s not a particularly hard model to comprehend. Neither was the buggy whip business. We can whine all we want, it doesn’t change the inevitable.

  6. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 27, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

    Neither B-net nor Patch has any real coverage or decent pictures from MHS’s Graduation- 24 hours ago, but yet the Montclair Times (northjersey.com) online does.

    As someone who believes that not only newspapers, but commercial radio will be dead in a few years (as in car wifi, pandora/spotify, etc. becomes the norm), I worry that the new gatekeepers won’t pay enough for staff to provide the news and quality we expect.

    The Chicago Sun-Times “layed off” all its photographers and will use reporters with iPhones, and some freelancers. Time will tell if quality suffers. I bet it does.

    Oh, well. That’s why we got Facebook and Twitter!

  7. POSTED BY Nellie  |  June 27, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

    First Pals Cabin, then the Star-Ledger….What’s next???? Baristanet???

  8. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 27, 2013 @ 7:39 pm

    …. And looking at Twitter, I was reminded of the great local coverage of the Great Black Bear Freakout of 2013. Great coverage on the local blogs that used “social media” to enhance the information put out to us. And WE got to be a part of it.

    That’s the new model, which reminds me of the former NY Times editor, Howell Raines’ “flood the zone” coverage.

    Only know, instead of paid reporters “flooding” the zone, it’s everyone. With their cell phone pix and video.

    So then, smart, capable reporters from the Ledger will always be needed (he said, hopefully).

    I hope they start working on it now.

  9. POSTED BY Gail  |  June 27, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

    I find it very sad that Baristanet had such miserable coverage of the MHS graduation. Two blurry, dark photos of kids and a picture of the outside of one of the buses. How far you have fallen.

  10. POSTED BY walleroo  |  June 28, 2013 @ 12:00 am

    This is bad, bad, bad.

  11. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  June 28, 2013 @ 7:28 am

    The paper will close after 182 years, big layoffs but you can bet the union heads will continue to pull in 500k+ per year. Only the rank and file will suffer.

  12. POSTED BY montclairdad  |  June 28, 2013 @ 8:29 am

    Anybody here still read the Ledger? I get it every day and every day I wonder why. Most sections are 2/3 filled with legal ads. The editorial page is one of the most slanted, amateurishly written pages of any major paper. The sports section is dreadful, unless you care about hundreds of high schools. The business section? Recycled AP or Reuters material available pretty much anywhere. And the main section reads like an international paper most days, with a couple local stories thrown in for good measure. As a former newspaperman, I never like to see a paper go out of business, but they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves – and of course, a greedy union – if this comes to fruition.

  13. POSTED BY Nellie  |  June 28, 2013 @ 9:25 am

    I get it everyday, too, but I don’t read it as much. I’ve actually been thinking of cancelling my subscription. I do like the Arts & Entertainment section in the Sunday paper, but not sure how much I’d miss the rest of it.

  14. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  June 28, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    We cancelled it about 10 yrs ago…. It used to have a great sports section especially local colleges and high school sports. A few times I picked it up at the train station, a waste.

  15. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  June 28, 2013 @ 10:32 am

    There was a guy in the grocery store trying to hand them out free the other day. No one would take one, even for free. There’s your problem…

  16. POSTED BY cathar  |  June 28, 2013 @ 10:40 am

    The legal ads, montclairdad, are in fact usually required by, well, law. And they’re a significant revenue stream for newspapers everywhere. I have no idea if they could easily be shifted to the internet.

    As for the Ledger’s decreasing coverage of most everything (though not, oddly, truly ephemeral stuff such as TV series which merit twice-weekly coverage), well, in some extent we get both what we “pay” for and what the paper can afford to pay for itself these days. The newspaper industry believes, of course, at least it does for public consumption, that if you grow up with newspapers, then you’ll be a lifelong fan of them; this is why the industry continues to throw so much money into its NIE (“Newspapers In Education” program nationwide.

    For some hint of what life might be like without newspapers, however, folks should ask themselves if they’d really happily settle instead for a daily e-mail memo consisting of opinions and reportage from both this site’s crack, alert editorial staff and the likes of croiagusanam. And without the leavening of “Peanuts” and “The Lockhorns,” or high school, college and pro sports scores, too.

  17. POSTED BY montclairdad  |  June 28, 2013 @ 11:10 am

    @cathar – I get the legal ads aspect, however when you’ve cut back so much content that the legal ads take up the majority of many sections? Well, that’s just a waste of a reader’s money.

    And there are many, many more outlets from which to get news than Baristanet and Patch. Things like Flipreader and News360 cull through thousands of articles you can gear toward your interests. Also more mainstream papers like the NYT and NY Post (I read both because I like to balance my paper hysteria 🙂 ), which have fantastic iPad apps as well.

    The print edition of the Ledger will not be missed should this happen. Now, having said that, the Ledger has done this dance many times before and always ends up staying in business, so I don’t expect this to lead to anything other than 1) more cutbacks on staff and 2) even worse reporting due to said cutbacks.

  18. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  June 28, 2013 @ 11:13 am

    I’m with Roo: this is bad, bad, bad. I’m one of a declining number who find that the dead-tree paper reading experience is very different from the on-line reading experience — you find obscure articles on back pages which are worth reading. You see something of interest and come back to it later. You re-read something. For some reason, I don’t do this with on line papers. On line, at least with the Times, your reading habits are digested and the news is then presented in a format their logarithms find you might enjoy. Creepy. I have sometimes come in to the office & tried to link the article I read at home that morning, and couldn’t find it on line. I read the Ledger every day, and while it has grown thinner, it’s still the best source for NJ & Essex County politics. NJ.com is a terrible website. There is no substitution. It will be a bad loss for NJ.

  19. POSTED BY kit schackner  |  June 28, 2013 @ 11:15 am

    montclairdad makes my point: I don’t want my news culled for me. I want to be presented with news on all kinds of subjects which I might not realize is interesting until I’ve read it.

  20. POSTED BY kbanda  |  June 28, 2013 @ 11:23 am

    I don’t know what I’ll do without my Star Ledger every morning! I can’t think about it.

    As for Baristanet, it just hasn’t been the same since Debbie left. Just sayin’.

  21. POSTED BY deadeye  |  June 29, 2013 @ 9:02 am

    Ha! The only reason I ever look at the Star Ledger is for high school sports. The “demands” of union leaders have caused more businesses to close, and created so much unemployment and misery for their rank and file through their misguided, self serving advocacy. Here’s a tip. When the business model is in question and profits and circulation are declining, you do what you can just to keep as many members employed, rather than disenfranchise all of them by demanding more.

  22. POSTED BY jcunningham  |  June 29, 2013 @ 9:17 am

    “The only reason I ever look at the Star Ledger is for high school sports.”

    —so it’s not a good product.

    “The “demands” of union leaders have caused more businesses to close, and created so much unemployment and misery for their rank and file through their misguided, self serving advocacy.”

    —so it’s the unions fault.

    these are two consecutive sentences, mind you. consistency of thought not a virtue here.

    “When the business model is in question and profits and circulation are declining, you do what you can just to keep as many members employed, rather than disenfranchise all of them by demanding more.”

    —so the unions are demanding MORE? gee, i missed that fact. where did you get that from? oh, you made it up to suit your POV?

    welcome to Teabag America ladies and gentlemen—a rambling, incoherent wasteland where facts are irrelevant and blind hatred reigns.

  23. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 29, 2013 @ 9:33 am

    I should add: I never got the Ledger because it was a TERRIBLE and CONFUSING paper. A mess of organization- sorry that the NJ.com site seems to have inherited the same horrible design elements. (Northjersey.com is better.)

    So then, a crap paper, no readers, no “new-media” transition (like the NYTimes), it’s clear: the Ledger got beat by better, faster, newer media.

    This has been a long time coming, that they haven’t better prepared and positioned themselves for this transition is their own fault.

  24. POSTED BY deadeye  |  June 29, 2013 @ 10:14 am

    Jc, I stand by my post. It’s utterly coherent. I made two separate, but related points. This drama plays in an endless loop. A business is like a organism. It needs to sustain itself. If it is bled dry, it will die. If it does, the employees become unemployed. Get it? Lets assume that you work, in the traditional sense. Your business is failing. You need the income. So, you go and ask for a raise?!? Don’t let the door hit you in the a– on the way out. And, what kind of connection does this have to the Tea Party, or is “tea bagging” just something that you’re interested in? Hmm? 😉

  25. POSTED BY deadeye  |  June 29, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    BTW, I’m not anti union. I’m anti stupid union practices that harm their members.

  26. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  June 29, 2013 @ 10:46 am

    It’s no secret that the Tea Party has actively demonized unions. But we know that, without the unions, we’d all be in unsanitary, airless factories and sweatshops right now, with paltry wages and zero benefits, and would have no time to spare sitting behind our LED screens and griping on Baristanet.

  27. POSTED BY montclairdad  |  June 29, 2013 @ 11:38 am

    @kit schackner – I was just offering up other ways to get news online besides Baristanet or Patch. Those were a few examples that quickly popped into my head. I too prefer the hard copy of a newspaper in my hands, but I also realize it’s a dying business model so I’ve embraced the alternative means. Unlike the NY Times app, the NY Post app gives you an EXACT replica of that day’s final issue. It’s about as close to an actual paper as any app gets. The Ledger app, while also giving you a copy of the actual paper, is horrible to use and navigate and the Times app changes content like a web page throughout the day.

  28. POSTED BY cathar  |  June 30, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

    montclairdad, you mention that you read other papers. Yes, they exist, but, at least until the Ledger actually stills its presses, their coverage of NJ is virtually non-existent. I love the Post, for example, but it only mentions Jersey to laugh. And the Times also doesn’t take this state seriously. It will mention Montclair at times, yes, for what I hope are obvious reasons. But Atlantic City? Ridgewood and Lodi? The ongoing horror of Camden? Nah, not at all.

    I still have an old t-shirt which features Hagar The Horrible and the tag “Daily News Jersey Edition” (it was one of a series featuring comics characters) dating from when that newspaper actually had such an edition and even a genuine, staffed office at Essex Green in West Orange. Those were in some respect “the days,” when NYC newspapers competed actively for Jersey readers and advertisers alike. I miss then but they’re not coming back, Id bet. Given that, I’d sort of like to keep the Ledger.

  29. POSTED BY whowantwhat  |  June 30, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

    “welcome to Teabag America ladies and gentlemen—a rambling, incoherent wasteland where facts are irrelevant and blind hatred reigns.”

    How do you really feel?

    The best part is, you are free to leave. I cannot see any reason to stay if that is how you really feel.

    Margins for this business model are thin and getting thinner given the outdated nature. Unions (and everyone) need to conceed. Or just close, it makes sense.

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