AnnArbor.com update April 15, 2009
The Ann Arbor News will cease publication entirely in late July. However that very next week (tentatively planned for a Sunday, July 26-with no lapse in delivery between the existing and new Sunday print publications), AnnArbor.com will begin producing a print publication on Sunday and Thursday mornings. While AnnArbor.com's business model will center around a new, community-driven web site, home delivered and single copy paid, twice-weekly newspapers will maintain a strong market presence.
AnnArbor.com's twice-weekly, paid print publications will look and feel like traditional newspapers. The newspapers will be in a multi-section, broadsheet format. Features and sections similar to those that appear in the Ann Arbor News will also appear in AnnArbor.com's print publications, such as Sports, Travel, Local Business, Entertainment, Opinion, Comics and even puzzles. But these publications will be enriched with more news analysis and community-focused information that's driven from the web platform (reverse publishing). By early May, we'll be able to share section-front prototypes and content highlights for both the website and the printed newspapers.
Matt Kraner, AnnArbor.com's new CEO, understands the significant value a local newspaper provides to advertisers. As such, he plans to continue a high level of market penetration. AnnArbor.com will be home-delivered to current Ann Arbor News pre-paid subscribers who do not choose to opt-out of delivery. New and aggressive pricing models will be also taken to market, encouraging a high purchase rate for the printed publications. Circulation numbers will be shared with advertisers regularly, while ABC audits will also continue.
Matt is confident that Ann Arbor residents will support the new business model. In fact, he and his editorial team are holding Public Forums as a key means of listening to and discussing community reaction to the changes. They are also asking questions and learning from the community. AnnArbor.com plans to build a web and print publication company that's woven tightly into Ann Arbor's local fabric. Early indications are positive. When the original announcement was made, 130 subscribers canceled their Ann Arbor News. While Matt is concerned about losing any readers, he acknowledges that this represents a small fraction of the News' circulation base. More importantly, circulation "stops and starts" have returned to normal since the first week.
Other positive changes will occur with AnnArbor.com's newspaper launch. Advertisers will be able to distribute their preprinted inserts by zip code within Washtenaw and Livingston Counties. AnnArbor.com is also working on sub-zip code opportunities for later launch. And a high-quality TMC product will be carrier-delivered to non-subscribers on weekends.
BoothMichigan will continue to offer multi-market advertiser contract rates, to include AnnArbor.com. Web advertising opportunities will also be handled through Booth or through AnnArbor.com's sales team.