The JCI annual report arrived last week with some interesting, if not sobering data. According to the annual report, circulation at the daily Journal is down to 238,382 and circulation at the Sunday Journal is 435,127. These are figures as of September, 2004. I'm old enough to remember circulation employees talking about the "2-4-6 campaign." The goal of this promotion was to build the circulation of the old morning Sentinel to 200,000, the old evening Journal to 400,000 and the Sunday Journal to 600,000. The current circulation numbers are pathetic. Some of the blame for the slide in circulation has to go to the circulation department. However, the lion's share of the blame is squarely on the shoulders of the editorial department. For too long the editorial department has been more interested in journalistic acclaim than in producing a paper that people want to read. The annual report also provided some shocking numbers on the community publishing division. That division produced a paltry $5.3 million in operating earnings in 2004. That same division in 1996 (when it was known as Add Inc) produced $14.2 million in operating earnings. When those figures are adjusted for inflation, the contrast is even more apalling. When you consider the record of the current management--botching the consolidation of the Journal and Sentinel, destroying Add Inc, making foolish acquisitions of IPC and PrimeNet and now selling Northstar for a song--these guys should be embarrassed to take their salaries and bonuses. Norlight has been carrying the company for the last 10 years. Now, it's earnings are going south as well. Our stock price has grown nicely the past several years due to Bob Kahlor's "ramp up" of 1997 to 2001 and Steve Smith's IPO in 2003. As a public company, the stock price will continue to grow only as earnings grow. Based upon the track record of current management, that's not going to happen. The Board of Directors needs to find a "White Night" to buy the company at a price that reflects the strong franchise value of many of the divisions.
Ben, it's "White knight" which goes back to the days of King Arthur and the Round Table. "White Knight" represents good as the "Black Knight" in the middle ages refers to evil. Today, it looks like the stock and JRN are in the days of "Spamalot" instead of "Camelot". This company and stock needs something good; like Gannet or the faultering Tribune Co.to buy us and therefor bail us out of a bad situation.