Tuesday, January 4, 2011


WATCH OUT WHAT YOU ASK FOR: It seems a week doesn’t go by when we don’t hear words to the effect that Kaua`i needs a new newspaper.

And although it might not be exactly what they are talking about it’s nonetheless nice to learn from Joan Conrow- one of the reporters- that

there’s a brand new newspaper in town, called For Kauai. It has a print edition that initially will come out monthly, as well as an online version that will be updated regularly. The paper is still taking shape, in terms of content, but with reporting veterans like Anne O’Malley, Jan TenBruggencate and me contributing the articles, it promises to be a bit more solid than the competition.

And make no mistake, For Kauai is definitely out to compete with both TGI and MidWeek. It’s a freshened up, newsier, less fluffy reincarnation of Kauai People, the hugely successful weekly newspaper that made a lot of money for its previous owner, The Honolulu Advertiser.

There’s still no word from Joan on distribution but we must assume that it will be a “TMC” type publication- the acronym for “total market circulation,”

The concept, devised in the later part of the 20th century, is that since advertisers make up the bulk of revenue for a newspaper and they want their ads in the hands of as many people as possible, the price of the paper is a deterrent to doing that.

Though the actual price of a newspaper has become a more important revenue source in the past decade or so, it’s traditionally been a “nuisance fee” designed to give the illusion of value to make sure that people didn’t just pick one up and throw it away without reading it.

But the TCM concept was that the cost of the newsprint and the lack of purchase price can be made up because if advertisers were convinced you could put more eyeballs on their ads they would flock to you. Not only do you get more advertisers with bigger circulation but you can charge more for each ad.

The TCM wars on Kaua`i started with The Kaua`i Times (TKT) which actually tried to compete with the local newspaper of record with news, albeit slanted- originally to reverse the Nukoli`i vote that first banned the resort that sits all alone between Hanama`ulu and the golf course and later to support the “north shore boaters.”

Though in big cities the distribution usually takes place via “free” news racks, in smaller more rural areas there are two preferred methods- by mail or by physical distribution to people’s driveways.

The downside of mail is two fold and both have to do with cost. First of all there is a postal definition of a newspaper that says that it must have a certain percentage of actual news versus advertising. But since cheap content has always been out there the big one is that a certain percentage of the people receiving it must actually request it.

Some kama`aina will remember when TKT hired a clipboard bearing army who invaded post offices trying to get people to sign up for the paper. And few on-line readers of local publications can miss those banner ads asking for you to sign up so you can “continue to receive” Mid-Week, which has gobbled up the ads from the now defunct Kaua`i People and stolen two advertisers- Times Supermarket and Foodland- from the local newspaper-sponsored, driveway-delivered “Island Shopper”- although Foodland has been going with both since KP’s demise.

And make no mistake- those “ad supplements” are where the big bucks are. They pay for the lion’s share of production costs with the smaller ads providing the rest... and the profit.

So far an examination of their “on-line” edition shows “For Kaua`i” to be just more fluff- albeit the kind that apparently lots of people seem to like, with profiles of local artists and businesses.

The one newsy entry- if you scroll down past the fluff- is Conrow’s “overview” of the county council, although a read reveals simply each one’s broad “priorities” rather than anything earth-shaking.

We wish them luck- we’re not out to break anyone’s rice bowl. But with the Chamber of Commerce on the war path lately we’ll have to wait to see the “guts” of the new guy on the block.

1 comment:

KimoRosen said...

Andy you say, "We wish them luck- we’re not out to break anyone’s rice bowl. But with the Chamber of Commerce on the war path lately we’ll have to wait to see the “guts” of the new guy on the block."

Mr. Parx, why not submit your blogs to Joan's paper? The paper will then start with a big pair!

Mr. Parx, we have disagreed in the past, however if there ever was a cover up or a local Watergate, my money is on you to unravel it!