Ann Arbor News to close, replaced by AnnArbor.com

The Ann Arbor News announced today that it will close in July and will be replaced by a new company and site, AnnArbor.com. (Disclosures: I have been advising the project and used to work for Advance, the parent company.) From the publisher’s letter:

This is a difficult day for all of us at The Ann Arbor News. I’ve announced to my colleagues here that we will publish our last edition in July, when a new company called AnnArbor.com LLC will begin sharing local news and information with the community.

I don’t have to tell you what a special and unique place Ann Arbor is; we get to embrace and experience our community’s vibrancy daily. Our company knows that, too, and has chosen our special city to use as a laboratory to create new ways to share local news and information. Our owners have decided to continue to invest significantly in our market, and will be starting a new online media company to better service our tech-savvy readers and advertisers.

In July, AnnArbor.com will be born as an incredible community resource online, in print and around town. Like Ann Arbor, it will be a special place for everyone in the community to learn about, participate in and share everything that’s going on in our area.

We have shared with you before in our pages the extreme challenges that our industry and our newspaper have faced over the last couple years. Out of those challenges has come a new opportunity. Our new strategy reflects shifting media consumption habits and advertising revenue in the newspaper business, and particularly in Michigan.

As we say hello to AnnArbor.com, we will say good-bye to The Ann Arbor News. . . .

We’ll be building our new product from ground up in Ann Arbor, and we’re excited to work with you to help shape the design and features that will best serve our community and advertisers.

While we are inviting current Ann Arbor News employees to apply for positions with the new company, it is with a heavy heart that I let you know that job losses will be unavoidable. We have an extremely talented staff at The Ann Arbor News and they have done a tremendous job through very difficult times. There is nothing they did or didn’t do that would have sustained our seven-day print business model. . . .

We hope you will embrace this change with us and help us along this journey to shape our new online media company.

They are holding community meetings starting in April to do that. I’ll talk more about the project as its proceeds.

  • JennyD

    As an Ann Arborite who joined the academy after a career in journalism, I am worried and hopeful about the AA news project. Do keep us posted Jeff. And if you ever want an educated consumer’s view of what goes on here, get in touch.

  • http://www.our-hometown.com Stephen Larson

    Jeff, what was your advice on Ann Arbor News continuing the print edition with a twice weekly TMC (Total Market Coverage) print product? Do you think that is a good idea or should print be dropped all together?

  • http://www.goeverywhere.com GoEverywhere Team

    And another one bites the dust.

    Just had the oldest Denver newspaper go under here in my backyard, but we all knew it was just a matter of time. And the ailing economy just seems to have accelerated the inevitable for some of these historic institutions.

    It is time to step into the 21st century, as painful as it might be for some. My webtop is taking me into the 21st century and allowing me more freedom, more control and more security than ever before.

  • http://www.intelligendo.com Tom Allinder

    We live in a time of great chaos and upheaval… not altogether bad though- my opinion.

  • http://www.vloghog.blogspot.com VlogHog

    It’s past time that newspapers adapt to the changing media structure.

    Expect many more newspapers to fold and to re-align as smaller ventures on the Internet.

    Look for major changes in telephone companies, prime time televsion and the postal service due to the influence of the net.

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  • http://georgianewsbeat.blogspot.com Walter L. Johnson II

    Vloghog is right. Times really have changed. Don’t be surprised to see more dailies become Web-only operations or vanish altogether.

  • http://www.worldplenty.com John Banfill

    Why are newspapers so reluctant to go to the free model + paid for delivery with the payment going to the carrier? It is this or death – their choice.

  • http://www.WithoutWarningCoach.com Rodney Johnson

    Is it a readership challenge, an advertising challenge or both. Obviously, it’s a little bit of both. However its my perception that readership has seen modest erosion while advertising revenue has seen a drastic downturn. The current economy has simply hastened the erosion of the weakest link. Qne yes, there are many more ready to follow suit across all media entities.

  • o-shift

    You know how this ends and there’s no turning it around anymore or yelling about it.

    It’s not what can make a newspaper thrive anymore but what can make the journalist live.

    • Andy Freeman

      As I wrote elsewhere:

      You can charge for content. And readers and/or advertisers will pay for content. (The appropriate mix depends on the content.)

      The trick is that if you charge more than viewers and/or advertisers are willing to pay for your content, they’ll do without and you won’t get paid.

      The important question is whether you are producing content that is worth as much to other people as you’d like to get paid.

  • http://www.freeenterprisewarriors.com Laurie Hathorn

    What a gracious and optimistic letter from the publisher. Knowing when to shift in order to stay in business is as important a skill as that which is required to build one.

    Delivering local news that people want online and inviting the public to help design the company is customer service at its highest level.

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  • Jessica Hughey

    The Ann Arbor News, and many other failing newspapers, also have contracted with several independent contractors (adult motor route drivers) who deliver their newspapers to subscribers and retail outlets. For many of them, newspaper delivery has been their only source of income for years and they will now be out of work. Since they are independent contractors and have little “real” job experience, they’ll have no access to unemployment and few prospects for other jobs. They will not be “invited to apply” for jobs with the new online company. This is an aspect media does not cover. It’s just sad how many people will have nothing, now that the news is folding.

  • Janet

    Very sad to lose the paper. I do not have internet at home and live outside of DSL area. As an educator, I got the paper to see what my students and former students who live in Ann Arbor were doing.

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  • Scott

    What is the thought behind abandoning the established Ann Arbor News brand in favor of AnnArbor.com? How is that a good idea? Why not just change the publication schedule and “reinvent” the brand?

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  • Del

    Former Ann Arbor News employee? Welcome aboard, glad to employ your years of knowledge…. Oh? “minimum wage”

  • http://AOL Robert Moyad M.D.

    I am subscriber of ann arbor news, please add me to your on line subscription for Ann Arbor News also.

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