E.W. Scripps Company (SSP), a diverse media company, restructured its newspaper division management in order to improve its advertising sales and local news content.

The changes announced will include the setting up of an operating committee comprised of two new national positions, responsible for sales and content, as well as four other positions with responsibility for operations, finance, information technology and human resources.

  • Bruce Hartmann, the President and Publisher of the News Sentinel in Knoxville, TN, will become the Vice President of Sales (print and interactive) and will be responsible for all advertising and circulation revenue across the division, and all Scripps advertising and circulation sales directors will report to him.
  • Rusty Coats, the Vice President of Interactive for the newspaper division, will be responsible for all content and marketing areas, and interactive operations and strategic third-party relationships such as with Yahoo! (YHOO) and other national interactive brands.
  • Frank Wolfe, the Director of Operations, will become Vice President of Operations for the newspaper division, and will have national responsibility for production and circulation operations.
  • Robin Davis, the division’s Vice President of Finance and Administration, will continue in her role.
  • Jim York, Director of Information Technology for the newspaper division, will become the Vice President of Information Technology, and will be responsible for the standardization and rationalization of the IT function within the division.
  • Mary Minser, the division’s Vice President of Human Resources, will continue in her role.

The restructuring was primarily done so as to ensure that its 13 daily newspapers put increased emphasis on community-changing local news content and peak-performing advertising sales. Further, the change is also expected to enable sharing of best practices, standardization of business processes and more efficient utilization of resources.

E.W. Scripps, like many other publishing houses, has been finding it difficult to keep advertising sales up. This is primarily because readers are rapidly shifting to online reading and moreover, the recession has hurt advertising sales both on and off line.

Newspaper revenue in the second quarter had declined 22.1% year-over-year to $113 million. This was due to lower local and classified advertising sales, particularly weak automotive, financial services and retail category advertising. Online revenue was also down 25% to $7.3 million due to softness in print classified advertising.

During the first half of fiscal 2009, advertisement sales of the company declined 29% to $165 million. Further, earlier this year, unable to cope up with the severe recession, management had decided to divest its Denver-based daily newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News.

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