'Chronicle' poised to face a new economic future

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Over the past few weeks you may have seen reports in this newspaper about a financial restructuring of Morris Publishing Group LLC, our parent company. These reports have raised questions -- from readers, advertisers and even members of our own organization -- about what this means to The Augusta Chronicle. Let us provide some answers.

It is certainly no secret that our country is experiencing one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression. More than a half-million people lost their jobs this past month alone, and unemployment nationwide has jumped to 7.6 percent. Nearly every kind of business -- large and small, national and neighborhood -- is suffering. Many of the businesses which have not shut down are fighting to stay alive.

Our business too is facing unprecedented challenges. The newspaper industry is being hit by two big storms: One is the continuing impact of the Internet on news and information dissemination. The other is the effect of the devastating economic decline on our advertiser business partners and their ability to pay to advertise their goods and services, both in the newspaper and on our Web site.

Like many households and businesses these days, we are working with our lenders to bring our debt load and debt service more in line with the economic realities of today.

OK, so what does this mean to you -- our readers, advertiser partners and employees?

Let's take on the toughest questions:

- Is The Augusta Chronicle going out of business? No. Our commitment to The Chronicle and its Web site, chronicle.augusta.com, and their roles in the community, has never been stronger. We are proud of what we have contributed to this community over the past 224 years, and remain dedicated to offering the same news, entertainment and service in the future. We intend to continue to provide the best services to our business partners, from the smallest local shops to the largest global firms. In fact, the leadership and staff of this organization -- ever committed to innovation -- is engineering an array of new services that will help readers and businesses more powerfully meet their daily needs. We are humbled by and grateful for every opportunity to help, touch and share in the lives of CSRA citizens.

- I've read you hired financial advisors. What for? We have brought them in to help us work with our lenders to restructure our debt.

- How will this debt restructuring help? By reducing the amount of principal and interest that we have to pay to service our debt, we will be able to invest more in the improvement of The Chronicle .

- Do you see an increasing role for your Web site? Absolutely. We have made great improvements in chronicle.augusta.com and are planning much more. Ours is the leading local Web site in Augusta, extending the market reach of The Chronicle to 74 percent, far more that any other news or advertising medium in Augusta. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, we must say that no other Augusta entity provides more detailed news coverage to readers, more value to advertisers or more community outreach than The Augusta Chronicle and chronicle.augusta.com.

- Are there going to be any more layoffs? This is one of the most difficult fallouts of any business downturn. People's lives are involved, and we take these decisions seriously. We are constantly balancing our economic conditions with the need to maintain quality of service to our readers and advertisers and will continue to do so -- ever mindful of the human impact of any and all decisions we have to make.

- You talked a lot about your financing issues but what about The Chronicle? The Chronicle will continue our in-depth local news coverage, continuing to report the truth for the public good -- in government, in business and in your neighborhoods.

We hope this column has been helpful in providing you with information about what we are doing and why.

We appreciate the trust you have placed in us to provide a democratic forum that gives a voice to all points of view, especially those whose voices may otherwise go unheard.

To our business partners, we thank you for the confidence you have placed in The Chronicle and chronicle.augusta.com to deliver your advertising messages to our readers, your customers.

The Augusta Chronicle has served this community for 224 years -- and looks forward to doing so for many more years to come.

Comments (37) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 02/15/09 - 03:08 am
0
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Why is this column's

Why is this column's authorship unattributed?

SandyK2005
1
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SandyK2005 02/15/09 - 04:18 am
0
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"We are humbled by and

"We are humbled by and grateful for every opportunity to help, touch and share in the lives of CSRA citizens." ---- et tu, brute?

justus4
105
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justus4 02/15/09 - 07:54 am
0
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"in-depth local news
Unpublished

"in-depth local news coverage" sounds a bit self-serving and taking a hard look into your fundamental operations maybe helpful. The obvious slant in the presentation of facts could produce a more credible approach to difficult subject matters, while not adopting a group-think mentality allowing the typical opinions to be voiced. Of course the big wigs of your operation will fail to properly identify its main problems, and continue down the same road. And the 224 yrs of service could be described as misleading, because "we" know there were two separate editions in the seventies. Separate and unequal.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 02/15/09 - 08:19 am
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LOL, Sandy. Thanks for the

LOL, Sandy. Thanks for the morning chuckle.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 02/15/09 - 08:21 am
0
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I feel better knowing I'll be

I feel better knowing I'll be able to share my humble opinion for now and in the near future.

foresthills
1
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foresthills 02/15/09 - 08:40 am
0
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between the lines the article

between the lines the article is pointing to a web based news organization with a few employees

Tujeez1
0
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Tujeez1 02/15/09 - 08:51 am
0
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Well, I guess they will have

Well, I guess they will have to Restructure AGAIN, NOW that they've had to put the Lockhorns back in. It's that New Math, it gets 'em every time.

UncleBill
6
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UncleBill 02/15/09 - 08:52 am
0
0
The first question about the

The first question about the unatributed authorship is a good one that merits comment. This has always bothered me about editorials in the AC. Where a publication has only one EDITOR, then it is easy to figure where the editorial comes from. However when there are many editors, as at the AC, one never knows exactly who is doing the writing. To me this seems to give the writer anonyminity. I think the author should be listed so the readers can have some insight to who is actually doing the writing, and speaking for the newspaper.

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 02/15/09 - 09:02 am
0
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For you opinion writers and

For you opinion writers and the retired Sylvia Cooper I have something to say. I do not ever want to read you bashing another political candidate because they had a bankruptcy i.e. John Butler ( the man was only 21 years old at the time). Karma sucks doesn't it?

WClark40
0
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WClark40 02/15/09 - 09:18 am
0
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The Augusta Chronicle is one

The Augusta Chronicle is one of the southeasts great papers. Keep up the good work and your organization will do just fine!!

christian134
1
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christian134 02/15/09 - 09:24 am
0
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Chronicle it sounds like the

Chronicle it sounds like the ole" dance around the pole two step when you answered the question of possible layoffs...Just say what you have to say and be done with it...Today you sounded much like the politicians that sit up on their high thrones while watching people's lives go down in flames...Being straight and truthful tends to help the bitter pills of ruin go down just a tad easier...

deekster
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deekster 02/15/09 - 10:48 am
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Augusta Richmond County will

Augusta Richmond County will always have to pay some "newspaper" to publish at the leaast "legal documents". It is the law. Look for a charge for ac.com in the near future.

longtraincoming
0
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longtraincoming 02/15/09 - 11:54 am
0
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Deekster---you are on tgt.

Deekster---you are on tgt. RA, bet the Army wishes you would quit highlighting yo were a member of their service.

robaroo
796
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robaroo 02/15/09 - 11:57 am
0
0
I don't have a good answer

I don't have a good answer for the newspapers. I rarely buy a paper anymore because I can get my news off the internet. I won't subscribe to any web site because there are other news sources around that don't charge. And if I can't get to the content quickly due to too many ads in the way, I get frustrated and go somewhere else.

gcap
290
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gcap 02/15/09 - 11:58 am
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Someone please put the old

Someone please put the old horse out to pasture. And that buggy...we can use for a planter or something. At least the AC realizes the days of newspapers are quickly coming to a close. Look at the NY Times, Washington Post and others. I applaud the AC looking at new avenues to stay in business, because they surely won't as a newspaper. Think about the Morse Code, Princess phones, local radio, street cars -- the list goes on.

sprintman
0
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sprintman 02/15/09 - 12:20 pm
0
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Seems the metro spirit is

Seems the metro spirit is doing just fine operating as a newspaper. I wonder why? It couldn't be because some people percieved the chronicle as biased. Why they have gotten into this financial trouble.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 02/15/09 - 12:47 pm
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Thius web site cost alot of

Thius web site cost alot of money to keep. If readership goes down then there is no money to fund the web abd a charge for use would be justified since the news is on the web site. I would think if a charge is to come about then the entire paper should be published. Justus, maybe you could lend them some money. Sprintman, The Metro is free and supported by the advertisers. No advertisers=no money=no paper.

Riverman1
86908
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Riverman1 02/15/09 - 12:48 pm
0
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The same article ran in the

The same article ran in the Jacksonville, Athens and Savannah papers. I guess Morris Com. is committed to keeping the big papers. I feel for their owner and employees during the struggle. Good luck because the "paper" affects all of us.

scott-hudson
10
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scott-hudson 02/15/09 - 02:07 pm
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The Metro Spirit had its best

The Metro Spirit had its best January in three years. I have it on good authority.

lowellbrown
4
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lowellbrown 02/15/09 - 04:09 pm
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The Chronicle is to be

The Chronicle is to be commended for its Web site; however, I, for one, am tired of hearing about the Internet replacing newsprint. Sure, I read selected articles from a number of online American and foreign papers daily, but I consider the printed Chronicle a necessity, even though I disagree with much of its editorial stance. More to argue about, good for the circulation, so to speak. I strongly suspect that people who get their news strictly from electronic sources have no soul and probably are not capable of truly enjoying a cup of coffee.

willistontownsc
55
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willistontownsc 02/15/09 - 04:24 pm
0
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I am thankful for the Metro

I am thankful for the Metro Spirit. The AC is more even more slanted to the right than the most slanted left-wing newspaper.

mgroothand
5
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mgroothand 02/15/09 - 04:53 pm
0
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Thanks AC for setting the

Thanks AC for setting the record straight. There have been many tough times in your long history, this too shall pass. I do find it amusing that some on this thread see fit to somehow compare the Metro Spirit with your daily paper.

corgimom
34061
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corgimom 02/15/09 - 06:54 pm
0
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If the AC were a little more

If the AC were a little more moderate and not so right-wing it might gain back a lot of of its readers. The Old Augusta of Augusta being run by the rich white folks on the Hill is rapidly disappearing. They are dying or retiring, and younger, more moderate people are now running Augusta. The AC has alienated so many of its readership base. Change, or perish. And I hope it's the former, not the latter. What would I do without my AC cyberfix every day, and the latest news of my beloved Augusta/North Augusta?

mable8
2
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mable8 02/15/09 - 09:11 pm
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Thank you AC for the

Thank you AC for the informative article. Now, if individuals had the right to 'restructure' their debts by lowering the principle and interest, perhaps we would also be in better shape!

longtraincoming
0
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longtraincoming 02/15/09 - 10:04 pm
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lowell, or a good "stinky"

lowell, or a good "stinky" would you not agree? Your coffee and the "stinky" migh just go hand in hand!

dadgethiskids
0
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dadgethiskids 02/16/09 - 12:29 pm
0
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I appreciate the Chronicle

I appreciate the Chronicle and its staff. I appreciate the Morris Family and all that they have contributed to the Augusta Area. I would like to wish them well.

concercitizen
634
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concercitizen 02/16/09 - 02:39 pm
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Reading an article or two

Reading an article or two online ia fine, but it is like watching televesion on your computer; You certainly can't gather the family around the old monitor for the latest episode of the Beverly Hillbillies. The computer and the internet have become an integral part of our lives, and certainly have made things much more accessible for those of us who take advantage of it. But I do not see the old print newspaper totally going away. Besides, have you ever tried using your laptop computer while taking that leisurely call of nature? Know what I mean!

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 02/17/09 - 07:17 am
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I think there is a

I think there is a generational shift at work here. I am a 60 yo Baby Boomer who became computer literate & got online in 1996. Many people my age missed the boat. They still read a printed newspaper IF they read a newspaper at all. I read The Augusta Chronicle, London Times, NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times among others online. I do not subscribe to any newspaper or news magazine. I read selected stories from Newsweek, TIME, and US News & World Report online. I don't shop or bank online. I have used my debit card exactly once to purchase something online. That practice will no doubt recur. I use a laptop & WI-Fi but with a mouse. Email is my primary form of internet contact. That said the younger generation is switching to smaller devices that can access the internet. They use texting & instant messengers. Few high school & college students get their information from newspapers either print or online IMO. TV news broadcasts still reach the most people but those numbers are dropping. I think online news (particularly via mobile devices) is the wave of the future. IMO The Chronicle needs to diversify into a multimedia organization incl print, streaming video & broadcast.

IsAnyoneAlwaysRight
40
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IsAnyoneAlwaysRight 02/17/09 - 08:02 am
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johnrudolphhardoncane "The

johnrudolphhardoncane "The Chronicle needs to diversify into a multimedia organization incl print, streaming video & broadcast" what do u think the chronicle has been doing? as far as papers its near the lead.....

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 02/17/09 - 09:06 am
0
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The Chronicle isn't into

The Chronicle isn't into broadcast (over the air, cable, or internet) programing AFAIK. Some newspapers have shrunk their print editions to the side of tabloid newspapers. There are savings to be had there. What is Plan B for The Chronicle? They seem to be selling off smaller publications and attempting to hold onto big city dailys according to GPB's "Georgia Gazette". Morris Publishing Group has a big debt payment due in April that it may not meet. What are its options to more layoffs at The Chronicle and bankruptsy? The Chronicle does not update its online edition in a timely manner IMO (other than automated AP updates). Is its online edition suitable for viewing on internet capable devices that are smaller than laptops? Music, entertainment, shopping, food, cooking, and heath related topics have mass appeal IMO. I'm just asking the questions in hopes of striking a chord that might help The Chronicle reinvent itself. The bottom line with me is unless the editorial policy of The Chronicle changes I don't give a damn whether it survives or not. In fact I hope this rightwing rag fails. Just desserts.

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