The Washington Examiner announced today it will cease publishing as a daily tabloid newspaper on June 14 and relaunch as a right-wing weekly magazine and website focusing on national politics. [That's what America needs -- fewer newspapers and more right-wing websites!] Eighty seven employees will be fired, including everyone covering local news, sports, transportation, and entertainment reporters.
Unfortunately, that means the end of some great coverage of local sports by reporters like Brian McNally, Craig Stouffer and, most of all, Redskins beat reporter John Keim. I was born in Washington, D.C. and have lived and studied in this area all my life. I've been reading local sports pages for a couple of decades now and I've never read a better beat sports reporter than John Keim. I read everything he writes and on Fridays have been known to ignore work emails with the word URGENT in the subject header so I can finish reading Keim's updates on the latest Redskins news. Hopefully, Keim, McNally and Stouffer can catch on somewhere else. The possibility of going into the 2013 Redskins season without Keim on the job is a very depressing thought.
Then there is one of my favorite columnists, Rick Snider. As the columns in the Washington Post sports section have continued to decline over the years, my appreciation for the terrific work Snider does has grown and grown. Like most Washingtonians I will always associate Snider with the Redskins more than anything else, but he's been a must-read on most local sports, including college, for years. I don't know if Snider will continue to write columns elsewhere, but considering the quality of most of the sports columns in this town, it seems almost criminal for Snider to disappear while certain others remain.
[Yes, I know I'm coming across like a real twerp right now, but quality sports columnists are rarer than they ought to be and I hate to lose one in this town.]
So, why is this happening? Well, The Atlantic had a good piece yesterday about the horrendous decline in ad revenue in the newspaper business.
Since 2003, print ads have fallen from $45 billion to $19 billion. Online ads have only grown from $1.2 to $3.3 billion. Stop and think about that gap. The total ten-year increase in digital advertising isn't even enough to overcome the average single-year decline in print ads since 2003.
Or, to put it another way:
I certainly hope DC sports fans have not read the last of John Keim, Rick Snider, Craig Stouffer, Brian McNally and the rest of the great team at The Examiner. The only parts of the Examiner I thought worth reading was the local coverage and, especially, the sports. Losing the paper is bad enough, but losing the great journalists who made the sports section so much fun would be truly terrible. Let's hope it doesn't happen.
Here is the full press release:
Clarity Media Group today announced that daily newspaper The Washington Examiner will shift its business model in June, becoming a digital platform and weekly print magazine focused on political thought leadership.
The new product, set to launch June 17, will offer news, analysis, investigative reporting and commentary on issues affecting national legislation and policy across a number of key areas. The website will continue to engage millions of visitors nationwide with web-only reporting and commentary throughout the day, complemented by WEX-branded digital and social media. The target readership for the print weekly will be 45,000 government, public affairs, advocacy, academia and political professionals in Washington, DC and state capitals.
“We have accomplished a great deal over the past seven years, as we built The Washington Examiner into a credible and respected brand in a very competitive market. The strong foundation we established with the website and daily newspaper presents us with the opportunity to shift our focus and meet a pressing need in the political content marketplace,” said Ryan McKibben, president of Clarity Media Group, the Denver-based company that owns The Washington Examiner. “As a result of research and analysis conducted over the past year, we have determined that there is an opportunity to bring our style of investigative journalism and keen analysis and commentary to covering national government and politics. The re-positioned Washington Examiner will meet that demand.”
The company also announced it has named Lou Ann Sabatier, a long-time executive and consultant in the publishing industry, chief executive officer of Clarity’s Washington Group, which in addition to The Washington Examiner includes The Weekly Standard and the website Red Alert Politics.
Under the plan announced today, the daily newspaper will continue to be published through June 14 with the new website launching June 17 and the first issue of the weekly coming out June 20. The change will require significant staffing adjustments in editorial and operations as the Examiner eliminates coverage of local news, sports and entertainment. In addition to 88 days notice, affected employees will receive severance and other separation benefits.
“Many of the business and editorial positions needed to publish a local daily newspaper are not required as we move to focus on national and political coverage,” said Mr. McKibben. “The employees being laid off should be proud of their achievements in creating The Washington Examiner, and Clarity is grateful for the role they have played in giving the Examiner the strong presence it has in Washington.”
Among the employees staying to launch and run the new website and publication are editor Stephen G. Smith, executive editor Mark Tapscott, and managing editor of digital Jennifer Peebles. Several other executives on the business side will remain to lead the effort. In addition, 20 positions will be created for the new digital platform and weekly publication.
“I am pleased to be part of the new direction that we are charting for The Washington Examiner and look forward to overseeing a stellar group of journalists who will cover the Washington political scene in a unique way,” said Mr. Smith.
Commenting on her appointment as CEO of Clarity’s Washington Group, Ms. Sabatier said, “Clarity is committed to providing the most insightful and knowledgeable political coverage and commentary possible to an influential and sophisticated professional readership, both in the nation’s capital and around the country. I am excited to be working with a great team to oversee this shift in focus for The Washington Examiner and to be leading Clarity’s efforts in the nation’s capital.”
Mr. McKibben said that until the shift on June 14, The Washington Examiner daily will continue operating as usual to serve its readers and advertisers.
“We are very grateful to all those who have supported and appreciated our efforts over the past seven years,” said Mr. McKibben. “We have enjoyed serving the Washington community and our pride in having done so will always be an important part of our heritage at The Washington Examiner.”