Lancaster, PA – It is no secret that newspapers across the country are in serious decline. Faced with going out of business or fire-selling to a larger newspaper company has become commonplace. An example of this is the fire sale of the York Daily Record, Hanover Evening Sun, Lebanon Daily News, and Chambersburg Public Opinion to Gannett Newspapers earlier this year.
Like LNP the Reading Eagle and the Patriot News are also family-owned though the Patriot News parent company has many more papers with most being in much larger markets across the country. All three also have companies outside the newspaper business.
Another thing they have in common? All three have lost more than 30% in paid circulation from their historical peak circulation.
Though the Patriot News has basically thrown the baby out with the bathwater giving up on the print business and printing the paper only three days a week (despite being a capital city paper) they have placed all their eggs in the digital publishing and advertising services basket – a decision that might make sense if they possessed the expertise and knowledge of the digital space.
The Reading Eagle is fairing worse of the three mentioned here. While many newspapers are grudgingly embracing the Internet the publisher of the Reading Eagle has put up a barrier between the consumer and the company by requiring consumers to subscribe to read their online content.
It is rumored by many, including Reading Eagle staff, the publisher refuses advice while ignoring data and that he will ride that company into the ground like Slim Pickens on the bomb in Dr. Strangelove
Where does this leave LNP?
LNP went through a rebranding and a makeover of the printed paper in the past year. The makeover of the paper received mixed reviews. Some people hated it while others loved it. A name/brand change was needed as there were three titles of the printed product but the settled on name, LNP, is mostly stupid and really does not mean anything to its market. The market was mostly indifferent to the name/acronym/whatever change that was more of waste of effort and expense. Regardless, neither of these two actions did anything to reverse or improve declining readership.
LNP’s website, lancasteronline, has gone through ups and downs over the years but has a reasonable following as a destination for Lancaster news – it is also a largely unrecognized advertising opportunity for many local advertisers.
With all the changes happening and the accelerating decline of print consumption is it best, or time, for LNP to sell? Is LNP a fit for Gannett Newspapers?
There is absolutely NO CHANCE of reversing the course facing printed newspapers. Our prediction is that there will be fewer than 50 printed daily papers by 2020. Neither the Patriot News, Reading Eagle, or LNP will be in that 50.
LNP appears to be a geographical fit that would fill a hole in Gannett’s property coverage as seen in the map below showing adjacent Gannett properties.
LNP’s valuation is directly tied to its subscriber base. Because of this its value diminishes daily. Wouldn’t now be the time to sell?
LNP would give Gannett contiguous footprint of circulation from Wilmington, Delaware to Chambersburg, PA with Lancaster, York, and Hanover in between. Gannett could also consolidate the newsrooms, production, and circulation while also bringing digital expertise absent at LNP.
If we were LNP we would have the For Sale sign out and wining and dining Gannett.