If you have ever lived in Columbia, Missouri there’s a good chance you’ve read the Columbia Missourian. It’s a local paper produced largely by student journalists at the University of Missouri, directed by professional journalists. It’s a step up from the campus newspaper The Maneater (of which I was once, very briefly, a humble correspondent) but a peg below Columbia’s paper of record, the Columbia Daily-Tribune.
Yesterday, the paper announced it was cutting back its weekly print editions from seven to five – gone will be the Monday edition and the weekend issue, published on Saturdays. It will also reduce the number of comic strips and syndicated columns, content the paper has to buy from outside sources. The newspaper put a positive spin on the announcement and later reporting on the story, but the central fact of the matter remains.
While many mainstream newspapers are struggling due to falling circulation numbers and the resulting drop in advertisement revenues, the Missourian appears to have been forced into the decision because of a grim state budget outlook. The newspaper has operated at a loss for more than a decade and relies on the state university for funding. The paper feared the university would not cover their operating losses this year, so they scaled back to cut costs.
Clearly, had the paper been in a stronger financial position the state budget would not have impacted them in such a way. Whatever the reason, yesterday’s announcement means that the newspaper industry’s decline continues to be felt in Missouri.