Demand for the Burbank Leader and its sister newspaper the Glendale News-Press, is apparently outpacing the supply of single issues of the newspapers available for readers. You have to wonder if this situation is going to get better or worse in light of yesterday’s announcement about the long-awaited spinoff of Tribune Publishing by the media giant Tribune Company. The spinoff is set to occur next month on August 4. Tribune Publishing includes several major newspapers, among them the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, which owns the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press along with several other community papers.
The new entity, Tribune Publishing, will be saddled with millions of dollars of debt: “Tribune Publishing will carry $350 million of debt when it spins off as a stand-alone company, $25 million higher than previously stated,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Meanwhile, a tight budget is already putting the squeeze on the printing of the Burbank Leader and Glendale News-Press.
A clerk at the checkout stand in Handy Market today, told me a stack of Burbank Leaders arrived this morning and will probably be gone by the end of the day. She says customers frequently take more than one free issue: “People come in and get three or four for their neighbors.” Customers are stopped from taking more than that and urged to contact the Leader. However, when they do, they’re told no extra issues exist because “only a limited amount is printed.” The Handy Market is one of the few businesses in the Media City to stock the Leader on its publishing dates of Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Last Saturday, an avid reader of the Glendale News-Press, left an interesting comment on a post I wrote last February critical of editor Dan Evan’s decision to remove news racks from the streets. Here’s Harvey Pearson’s comment: “Dan Evans wrote me that until “revenue picks up” there will be no more free Glendale News-Press papers — ie., in racks OR in stores. When I suggested that he/they charge, say, a quarter for each paper (for revenue) he wrote back that “We can’t, because we’re part of the Los Angeles Times. Should we buy that?”
The obvious question is how can revenue pick up if the product or newspaper is hard for consumers to find? Perhaps the community newspapers are being kept trim and lean to attract investors. Rumors continue to circulate about a possible sell of all or some of the Tribune Publishing newspapers. So it’s hard to say at this point, if the situation for the Burbank Leader and the Glendale News-Press will get better or worse until the future of Tribune Publishing becomes clearer.