Once upon a time, the Press-Enterprise was the premier source for news in Riverside County.
Those days appear to be over dear readers. And we here at Inside Riverside have only have one thought on that. Good.
According to a story by Gary Scott about the most recent Audit Bureau and Circulations report, in just the last six months,
"The Belo-owned Riverside Press-Enterprise experienced the biggest decline in the Inland Empire, with circulation falling 24.3 percent on weekdays for an average of 113,182 copies sold. Sunday circulation was down 23.3 percent. Contributing to the losses were several rounds of staff cuts in the last year and the paper's decision to end delivery services in parts of San Bernardino County."
This morning, the opening stock value of the Press-Enterprise's parent company Belo Corp.(BLC on NYSE) was $4.94 per share. That's about 75% less than the stock was trading at five years ago.
On December 31, 2004 Belo's stock was worth $20.97. Since then it has never been that high again.
We must note though that Belo's stock value today is nine times it's $0.55 price of March 20, 2009. But $5 per share is nothing to cheer about. Many serious investors will not touch a stock that is valued less than $12 per share.
Besides, the improved stock price probably has little to do with how many people are buying Belo's papers. Rather, the stock likely rose as another round of layoffs took place this month at The Press-Enterprise. This means money is being "made" not by selling newspapers, but by cutting payroll.
Now to be fair, The Press-Enterprise's drop in circulation, which translates to a drop in readership, which also translates to a drop in influence in the area it serves is part of a nationwide decline of newpapers.
Reflections of a Newsosaur reported this Monday that less Americans are reading newspapers today than at any time since World War II.
"Following an average drop of 10.6% in the last six months, daily newspaper circulation has fallen to a pre-World War II low of an estimated 39.1 million, according to an analysis of industry data released today.
The first double-digit circulation decline in history means only 12.9% of the U.S. population buys a daily newspaper."
Certainly the Internet is the main culprit behind the demise of the newspaper industry, but the newspapers also have themselves to blame for their agonizing deaths.
Let's look at The Press-Enterprise.
The Press-Enterprise made itself irrelevant by failing to be a truly serious institution of journalism. Instead of allocating time to investigative stories that benefit the people, the paper required content not quality from its reporters. And it shows.
One of the most egregious oversights of The Press-Enterprise was former Sheriff Bob Doyle's "badges for support" scheme. The Los Angeles Times broke the story and reported on sleazy donors who had Riverside County Sheriffs badges.
The Press-Enterprise didn't even try to play catch up on the story. Instead it became an apologist for Doyle's unethical and illegal behavior. That helped it earn the name "The Press Enquirer" from us.
Likewise, the Press-Enterprise/Press Enquirer destroyed its credibility by failing to conntain its opinions to the Editorial Page. When reporting on political matters, articles that could injury politicians the paper supported did not receive the proper coverage or were ignored entirely, as were articles that would be positive for elected officials The Press-Enterprise did not like.
But there is a silver lining in all of this.
The Press-Enterprise's failure to report certain news items and the Editorial Board's out-of-touch views of the world led to the birth of Inside Riverside.
Without the shortcomings of the Press Enquirer this blog never would have been born of necessity.
So we thank the leaders of the Press Enquirer for creating the opportunity to build this blog which has had an explosion of readership at the same time your once great newspaper is going the way of the Dodo.