The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) has announced new trims to its staff and delivery areas.
After January 11, 22 counties will be cut from the daily’s circulation range, reducing service to 27 counties in and around Atlanta. The AJC has made two similar trims since early 2007, striking its number of deliverable counties from a height of 145. In March 2006, before the cuts, total average paid Sunday circulation reached 561,405, while weekdays hit 365,011. As of September 30, 2008, the daily reported a total average paid Sunday circulation of 464,805, and weekdays averaged 274,998. The new cuts will reduce average circulation by an additional 5%, or about 15,000 daily, 25,000 Sunday.
“The 22 counties that will be discontinued were not the areas our advertisers most wanted to target, were not primary drivers of revenues, are cost-intensive to deliver to, and not a lot of readership is gained from those counties,” explained Jennifer Morrow, external communications manager for the AJC. “We anticipated that it would continue to get more expensive to deliver to those areas.”
The AJC also is cutting 156 jobs — 56 full-time and 100 part-time — in its circulation department. The paper offered involuntary severance packages to 215 total workers but allowed them to reapply to 59 newly-created positions.
Subscribers in the soon-to-be-cut counties will receive a letter from the paper describing the change and telling them how to get in touch with the distributor who manages their accounts. Refunds will be offered, and readers also will be urged to subscribe to the forthcoming e-edition of the AJC — an online replica of the paper that includes coupons and ads.
In a bright spot for the paper, its online efforts have boosted its total audience to a reported 2.22 million, and the site is on track to record 1.2 billion page views this year.
The AJC also continues to invest in its print product, pouring $30 million into press improvements and working on a redesign for the paper, slated to debut in March.