Thursday, November 19, 2009

Joe Dashiell Takes a Look at The Roanoke Times

WDBJ7 television in Roanoke has been running promotions for respected journalist Joe Dashiell's impending reporting on The Roanoke Times and I'm eager to see what one of the best news reporters in this region's TV history comes up with.

My guess is that The RT will try to explain its dramatic circulation losses during the past two years with explanations of "penetration" and "readership," both good gauges, but neither a true balance for combined circulations losses of 11 percent between Sept. 30, 2007 and Sept. 30, 2009 (the drop is from 88,267 to 77,816, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations). The Times has lost 9,000 readers in the last year and 4,000 in the last six months combined total circulation.

"Readership" (the number of people reading the paper as a whole, and there are often more than one per subscription) is down 3.3 percent weekdays and 4.4 percent on Sundays, according to ABC, representing the loss of 13,213 sets of eyes on Sunday.

The numbers online are better, up 12 percent during the past 30 days from 104,000 to 111,000. That seems to be a saving grace for many papers. I hear complaints that The Times' site is difficult to navigate and that it doesn't run certain stories. The difficult navigation, I have dealt with and on occasion I can't find a story that I know is in the paper version.

We (Valley Business FRONT) did two long pieces on The Times this past February (by Alison Weaver, who once worked there) and you can find them here and here. The first is an interview with Publisher Debbie Meade and the second a look at the paper's impressive losses among experienced personnel under Meade's regime.

Watch for Joe's story. He'll do a good job with it.


  1. This will be interesting. Does anyone, even he, have the honesty to tell it like it is? It is the coverage. Who/What gets in again and again and again and again---demographics, guys.

  2. Ib: I know how hard Joe has worked on this to be fair to The Times and honest with the report. These guys have lost 11 percent of their circulation in a year. That can't be sustained.