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Glacier earned $25.7 million in 2011: a hilarious (annotated) financial report

March 30, 2012 2 comments

Glacier Media released its 2011 financial report yesterday, which shows the company earned $25.7 million last year on more than $267 million of revenue.

That’s up nearly double from 2010, when the Glacier made $13.58 million for its shareholders. In 2009, it made $13.92 million.

Find the annual report (and attached company-designated highlights) here. Or read below for an annotated version.

The report states:

Glacier’s local community newspapers revenue continued to grow during the year. The growth resulted from the combination of the economic strength experienced in Western Canada, the nature of media in the small markets in which Glacier operates, and strong operational focus and effort.

The growth in revenue was realized in both print and digital revenues, and underscores the value of Glacier’s small market community newspapers, which offer a unique selling proposition and competitive advantage through the local information that they provide, of which they are a primary source. The value of Glacier’s local community content is now being provided to Glacier’s readers in print and online, by tablet and smartphone platforms [BC Reporter: Even if they are bug-ridden and essentially useless]. Glacier is in the early stages of the development of this digital community media strategy. This timing has been geared to be proactive while aligning operating cost investment with market needs. The timing also means that significant digital revenue opportunities still exist to be realized. [BC Reporter translation: "We've been slow to react but now we're playing catch up and trying to make money we should have been raking in for the last three years."] Given that the demand for local community information is expected to exist for the long term, Glacier expects to be able to leverage and monetize the information and marketing value through advertising and other revenue sources for the long term. As 85% of Glacier’s local newspaper distribution is free, this also provides for a more durable reach of readership for advertisers over time wherein total market coverage can always be provided.

Same-store consolidated revenue growth for Glacier was 3.1% for 2011. Growth slowed in the fourth quarter of 2011 in some of Glacier’s local newspaper markets due primarily to softer national advertising. Growth has been varied in the first few months of 2012 for some of Glacier’s community media operations, but has been stronger in the trade and business and professional information operations. It appears that the global economic uncertainty has resulted in cautiousness amongst some national and other advertisers, although local advertising has generally held up well.

….

Cost reduction measures continue to be implemented consistent with management’s strategy of maintaining strong product and editorial quality while reducing operating costs where possible through initiatives that do not impact quality, sales capacity or market and competitive positions. Management is being careful to maintain appropriate levels of resources in staff and technology as well as business development in order to facilitate long-term revenue growth. [Translation: "Be happy! We've cut costs, but the people we've fired have been useless."]

….

The EBITDA results were achieved while increased operating investment was made in digital media, senior management, staff, information technology and related resources, as well as other content and quality related areas. [Translation: "I know we just said we cut costs, but we also hired some people and gave senior management (who, by the way, are doing a really, really great job) a nice raise. You wouldn't want them to go work somewhere else, would you? ...? Yeah, that's what we thought.] The increase in Glacier’s consolidated revenue has both allowed these investments to be made and has been in part a result of the digital investments already made.

These investments were made consistent with Glacier’s complementary media platform strategy. This strategy is geared to address both the risks that digital media represents to the traditional print platform and the opportunities digital media offers in Glacier’s local community and business and trade information markets. The strategy is based upon the premise that customer utility and value should drive the structuring of platform utilization. Online, mobile, tablet and other information delivery devices will be fully utilized, while print content and design quality will also be fully maintained. While the digital platforms offer many attractive new opportunities, the print platform continues to offer effective utility to both readers and advertisers. Maintaining strong print products also maintains strong brand image and awareness, which increases the likelihood of success online. Studies of time spent across media platforms and reader satisfaction support the premise of the complementary platform strategy. Management expects that customer utility will vary over time and will be affected by what Glacier and other media providers can creatively provide. Management believes that the pursuit of a complementary platform strategy will be prudent for the foreseeable future, and will maximize revenue and profit generation. [Translation: "We know you're obsessed about the online shit, but print is still our bread and butter."]

Given the increased cash flow resulting from operational growth, the acquisitions completed and the strong level of cash flow overall, an increasing portion of the Company’s cash flow can be returned to shareholders in the future through increased dividends. The Company also intends to repurchase shares as deemed attractive and prudent. [BC Reporter translation: “More money for shareholders! Make it rain, homies!

As indicated, significant focus and related investment will continue to be made to enhance Glacier’s digital trade and business and professional information verticals, through both organic development and the acquisition of new businesses. These acquisitions will be targeted to expand the markets that Glacier covers, expand the breadth of information products and marketing solutions provided, and to expand Glacier’s digital media staff [from two people to three?: BC Reporter], technology and other relevant resources.

Alright. That was a tad snarky, but when all is said and done, it’s fairly good news for all journalists, since Black Press is probably operating in the same economy (Although David Black’s obsession with buying fucked-up American papers would scare the fuck out of me if he delegated the signing of my paycheques).

Black Press subscriber papers go to pay wall

March 28, 2012 5 comments

Black Press has followed an increasing number of newspaper publishers around North America and instituted a pay wall to access online content for those of its papers that aren’t free.

The pay wall hasn’t descended on every one of its subscription papers (Salmon Arm Observer and Trail Daily Times content, for two is still free.)

But other papers, like the Ladysmith Chronicle, are already behind the wall. Click on some of the Chronicle’s stories and you get redirected to a screen that says:

Welcome to ladysmithchronicle.com

The content you are trying to access requires a subscription.

If you are already a print subscriber, this online access is part of your subscription. Just click on Register and then Activate Digital Add On on the next two screens to activate the online portion of your subscription.

If you are not a current subscriber, you can create an account and purchase a Print and Digital Subscription or Digital Only Subscription on the next page.

Click Help for further assistance.

Thank you.

Black Press has posted a FAQ about its paywall. Here are the three most interesting Qs and As:

Q: Why has the paper chosen to make some of its content “Premium Content?”

A: Like any business, we need to price our product in such a way that we can continue to provide the level of quality to which our customers have grown accustomed. Maintaining our staff of talented local journalists, sales people and designers would not be possible without subscription fees. This also corrects an anomaly that’s existed for years – where our print subscribers paid to read our stories, which were available online free. This properly recognizes the value all our subscribers place on our content.

Q: Will the entire site require a subscription?

A: No, much of the content on our site will still be free, including: breaking news, calendar, and all facets of provincial coverage. Subscriptions are required to access our in-depth local news, sports, opinions and features.

Q: Can I buy a subscription on the website?

A: Yes. You can pay for delivery of our print edition plus online access, or just the online access quickly and easily through our site.

more…

This strikes me as a good, easy move that should have been made long ago. While there is an argument to be made for a paid paper in a large city to offer its content for online for free (particularly if it has free competitors), it seems stupid to do so in a small community where you already charge for your paper and where you have no free competition. This will again reinforce the need for Salmon Arm and Trail residents to go out and buy their local paper. While I guess it could hurt online advertising, that’s still a small slice of revenues compared to the money made from ads in the print editions of those not-free papers. In a community like Ladysmith, nobody is going to be able to make money running a free online news site—at least not for many years.

Now will Glacier follow suit with some of its papers? The Prince George Citizen seems to hold back much from its paper editions, but some of the smaller subscription papers still post much, if not all, of their content online.

P.S. If anybody at those papers has an opinion, please weigh in. Also, if, in a couple months, somebody could forward me pre-paywall and post-paywall subscription numbers, or email me about how a paywall affects their subscriptions, it would be much appreciated.

Good idea? Bad idea? Leave a comment.

Your 2012 Ma Murray nominees

February 22, 2012 5 comments

The finalists for the BCYCNA’s 2012 Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards were announced Tuesday. I’ve posted the complete list of nominees below. The Vancouver Courier leads the way with seven finalists. Monday Magazine has six [or seven, if you count Special Publications Award, about which I have mixed feelings. See the comments for more.] The North Shore News and Coast Reporter are close behind with five finalists each. [UPDATE, if there are others I have missed with at least five nominees, leave a comment]

I’ve also tallied the results for the newspaper companies.

Overall Excellence

Black Press – 14 (2011 – 17)

Glacier – 6 (2011 incl. Postmedia – 4)

Writing

Black Press – 20 (2011 – 16)

Glacier – 12 (2011 incl. Postmedia – 15)

Glacier dailies – 3 (2011 incl. Postmedia – 5)

Photos

Black Press – 14 (2011 – 17)

Glacier – 8 (2011 inc. Postmedia – 9)

Yukon News – 5 (2011 – 4)

Anyways, Here are the full results (I’ve omitted advertising and special publications awards, find them here):

WRITING AWARDS

Arts & Culture Writing Award

Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, Ashley Degraaf: Keeping that old fire burning
Richmond News, Eve Edmonds, Alan Campbell, Michelle Hopkins & Chung Chow: Arts alive in Richmond
Vancouver WestEnder, Jessica Barrett: Writing on the Wall

Business Writing Award

Monday Magazine, Mary Ellen Green: Ugly sweaters for all
Nanaimo News Bulletin, Toby Gorman: Beekeepers anxious about winter results
New Westminster Record, Christina Myers: In business: making ‘fun’ of allergies

Columnist Award

Abbotsford News, Andrew Holota: Insight into “what were they thinking?”; Hockey fans
Monday Magazine, Brian Kieran: Driver testing is designed to fail seniors; Campbell retains power to
inspire outrage
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Mark Hasiuk: Self‐righteous moralists dominate casino
debate; Candidates court Chinatown while enabling its downfall part of the anarchy

Editorial Award

Monday Magazine, Grant McKenzie & Timothy Collins: Code of Justice: Kimberley Proctor’s killers
will face a fate worse than death
Nanaimo Daily News, Paul Walton & Dustin Walker: North Nanaimo needs low barrier project;
Cantelon has inflamed the housing issue; lies about low‐barrier facility unhelpful
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Barry Link: Why you should vote

Environmental Initiative Award

Coquitlam Now, Jennifer McFee: School diverts 85 per cent of waste
Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, Peter W. Rusland: Pointed bid made for waterfront park
Vancouver Courier (East Side Edition), Naoibh O’Connor: Earth tones

Environmental Writing Award

Monday Magazine, Mary Ellen Green: Dying to stay green: Victorians are making end‐of‐life
decisions with the same values as they lead their lives
North Shore News, James Weldon: B.C. aphrodisiac contains cadmium
North Shore Outlook, Sean Kolenko: Sink or Swim

Feature Article Award

Chilliwack Times, Tyler Olsen: Lost girl
Kamloops Daily News, Catherine Litt: Walking tall: She was a 78‐year‐old woman on a 426‐
kilometre expedition
Monday Magazine, Danielle Pope: No Shame: Healing the Wounds

Feature Series Award

Nanaimo Daily News, Dustin Walker: Legacy of Fear
The Chilliwack Progress, Jenna Hauck & Eric Welsh: Teenager’s life turned upside down
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Mike Howell: Riot

John Collison Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism

Keremeos, The Review, Steve Arstad: Helping for humanity’s sake
Revelstoke Times Review, Aaron Orlando: Forests ministry knew of conditions in squalid camps;
workers not yet paid
Surrey, North Delta Leader, Jeff Nagel: Justice Denied

Neville Shanks Memorial Award for Historical Writing

Monday Magazine, Danielle Pope: Remember Us: Chinese Canadian vets honour the country that
cast them aside
North Shore News, James Weldon: A separate peace
Revelstoke Times Review, Aaron Orlando: Does ‘Revelstoke’ meteorite hold evidence of extraterrestrial
life?

Outdoor Recreation Writing Award

Campbell River Mirror, Alistair Taylor: Youths escape death in river incident & Trees and high water
create hazard on the river
North Shore News, Manisha Krishnan: Going downhill ‐ fast
North Shore Outlook, Maria Spitale‐Leisk: Breathtaking Journey

Sports Writing Award

Abbotsford News, Dan Kinvig: Picking up the pieces
Langley Times, Gary Ahuja: Football fills family void
Vancouver Courier (East Side Edition), Bob Mackin: A stadium reborn

PHOTO/CARTOONIST AWARDS

Feature Photo Award, Black & White, Over 25,000

Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, Andrew Leong: Drawing the boundaries
Maple Ridge‐Pitt Meadows News, Colleen Flanagan: Vigil for two young souls alike
Victoria News, Sharon Tiffin: Happy fisherman

Feature Photo Award, Black & White, Under 25,000

The Interior News, Jon Muldoon: Tubing on Tyhee
Yukon News, Justin Kennedy: Starry night
Yukon News, Mike Thomas: Reflecting face

Feature Photo Award, Colour, Over 25,000

Campbell River Mirror, Paul Rudan: Journey begins for Phillips chinook
Richmond News, Chung Chow: Taking flight … a chickadee prepares to go airborne from a cherry
blossom tree in Garry Point Park
Victoria News, Don Denton: Totem gets its groove on

Feature Photo Award, Colour, Under 25,000

Eagle Valley News, Lachlan Labere: True inspiration
Salmon Arm Observer, James Murray: Watch the birdie
Shuswap Market News, James Murray: Share and share alike

Photo Essay Award

Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, Andrew Leong: The Exhibitionists
Gulf Islands Driftwood, Susan Lundy & team : Day in the Life of Salt Spring Island
Powell River Peak, Alicia Baas: Game day

Portrait/Personality Photo Award

The Chilliwack Progress, Jenna Hauck: Latimer and Tractorgrease break boundaries
Yukon News, Ian Stewart: Business portrait
Yukon News, Mike Thomas: Helicopter pilot

Sports Photo Award, Over 25,000

North Shore News, Cindy Goodman: Jammin’
North Shore News, Mike Wakefield: Fly‐by‐kite operation
Penticton Western News, Mark D. Brett: Bring her down

Sports Photo Award, Under 25,000

Coast Reporter, Justin Samson: Coastal Seshins
Gulf Islands Driftwood, John Cameron: Driven to Ride
Quesnel, Cariboo Observer, Percy N. Hébert: Great snag

Spot News Photo Award, Over 25,000

Campbell River Courier‐Islander, Dan MacLennan: Free four all
Cowichan Valley Citizen, Kevin Rothbauer: Three homes, three days, three fires
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Dan Toulgoet: Riot

Spot News Photo Award, Under 25,000

Nelson Star, Megan Cole: Delivering a Macabre Message
Quesnel, Cariboo Observer, Percy N. Hébert: Trapped
Yukon News, Mike Thomas: Car meets motorcycle

Cartoonist Award

North Island Gazette, Lawrence Woodall: No title, on Commentary page
Powell River Peak, Wendy Brown: HST Referendum
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Geoff Olson: Dog heaven

SPECIAL NEWSPAPER AWARDS

Special Section Award, Over 25,000

Abbotsford News, Dan Kinvig & Cristine MacDonald: Faceoff
Cowichan Valley Citizen, Andrea Rondeau, Lexi Bainas, Sarah Simpson & Kevin
Rothbauer: Valley food something to crow about
Surrey, North Delta, White Rock Now, Marlyn Graziano, Beau Simpson, Kim Rose & Margot Gauley: Possabilities

Special Section Award, Under 25,000

Coast Reporter, Ashley Doyle: Horizons 2011
Oak Bay News, Oliver Sommer, Penny Sakamoto, Jennifer Blyth, Tricia Stringfellow & Brian Pert:
Salute to Mayor Causton
Whistler Question, Eric MacKenzie & John Magill: GranFondo Whistler

Website & Online Innovation Award

Abbotsford News, Don Barbeau & Cristine MacDonald: My Ride
Kamloops Daily News, Mark Rogers: Kamloops Daily News website
Yukon News, Mike Thomas: Yukon News

Ma Murray Community Service Award

North Shore Outlook, Staff: Back to School
Richmond News, Michelle Hopkins, Eve Edmonds & Chung Chow: Bank feeds city’s body, mind and
soul
Richmond Review, Mary Kemmis: Ethel Tibbits Awards raises record amount

NEWSPAPER EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Newspaper Excellence Category A

Bowen Island Undercurrent (B)
• Bridge River News (G)
North Thompson Times (B)

Newspaper Excellence Category B

• Fernie Free Press (B)
• Hope Standard (B)
• North Island Gazette (B)

Newspaper Excellence Category C

• Gulf Islands Driftwood (B)
• Salmon Arm Observer (B)
• Squamish Chief (G)

Newspaper Excellence Category D

• Coast Reporter (G)
• Oak Bay News (B)
• Whistler Question (G)

Newspaper Excellence Category E

• Cowichan News Leader Pictorial (B)
• New Westminster Record (G)
• Parksville/Qualicum Beach News (B)

Newspaper Excellence Category F

• Langley Advance (G)
• Peace Arch News (B)
• Victoria News (B)

Newspaper Excellence Category G

• Abbotsford News (B)
• Kelowna Capital News (B)
• Surrey, North Delta Leader (B)

(B)

How Twitter reacted to Postmedia/Glacier deal:

October 19, 2011 2 comments

I’ve experimented/wasted too much time with using Storify to document reactions on Twitter to the Postmedia/Glacier deal and its effect on the B.C. community newspaper landscape. Click the following link to make my effort at least a little worthwhile:

View “Online reaction to Glacier/Postmedia deal” on Storify

Categories: Industry stuff Tags: , ,

Sayonara, Postmedia! We welcome our new Glacier overlords.

October 19, 2011 6 comments

I’m taking a break from my self-imposed exile to celebrate the abandonment of the B.C. community news sector by Postmedia. I’m sure you’ve already heard that Glacier agreed to buy Postmedia’s Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland papers, along with the Victoria Times-Colonist, for 80-some million dollars.

This has been greeted, predictably, with great enthusiasm from at least those people in my Postmedia newsroom. As I explained several months ago, Postmedia never knew what the fuck to do with its community papers. (Actually, that may be wrong. They took profits from the community papers and threw them into the great mysterious Postmedia debt hole. Unfortunately, that debt hole was posed to gobble up all the chain’s money for a great number of years.)

To escape that burden (sorry Vancouver Sun and Province journos!) feels like a new lease on life.

Sure, an avalanche of money isn’t about to flow our way. It never does. But at least there will be hope for the future and competency in the present. For one, Postmedia’s “digital-first” strategy, with its focus on page views at the expense of building good and readable news sites, was idiotic. Photo Galleries! Photo Galleries! More Photo Galleries.

Thankfully, judging by Glacier newspapers’ sites (including that of the Powell River Peak [!]), there doesn’t appear to be the drive to obtain page views, no matter how fleeting, at all else. The sites also appear, while not exactly beautiful, at least competently put together and simple. That’s another welcome change from the scrapheap of random widgets, links and ads that currently comprise the Lower Mainland papers’ sites.

On a not-unrelated note, I’m going to try and update this blog every week or so. Sometimes posts may come more frequently. Probably, they’ll be more sporadic. But either way, I hope to still be here.

It’s a brand new day!

Am I wrong to be so optimistic? Post a comment below.

Glacier Media earned $20.5 million last year, up 47% from 2009

April 1, 2011 Comments off

Glacier Media has reported its 2010 year-end reports.The company made — drum roll please — $20.56 million in the year ended Dec. 31, 2010.

That’s up considerably from $13.92 million the company earned in 2009, but less than the $28 million it made in 2008.

If you like financial statements and the sort, you can sort through all the numbers here.

If you don’t, I’ve pulled out themost interesting bits from the financial statement, from which I can steal liberally, since it’s a press release:

The recovery in revenue occurred across the majority of Glacier’s businesses in 2010. Growth came from both traditional print sources and digital media sources, and is directly attributable to Glacier’s operational, business segment and media platform strategies.

As previously indicated, management pursued a cost reduction strategy prior to and during the recession that was focused on realizing significant reductions in operating costs and efficiencies while protecting the strength of Glacier’s human resources, content quality, sales force and market and competitive positions. Additional cost savings are being realized in 2011 as a result of production and printing related technology and equipment investments, amongst other things.

The revenue growth that was realized prior to the recession and that resumed in 2010 continues to underscore the value of Glacier’s community newspapers, which offer a unique selling proposition and competitive advantage through the local information that they provide, of which they are a primary source. This is very different to the challenges that exist for large metropolitan daily newspapers. The value of Glacier’s local community content can and is now being provided to Glacier’s readers in print and online, by tablet and smartphone platforms. Glacier is in the beginning stages of the development of this local market digital media strategy. This timing has been geared to be proactive while aligning operating cost investment with market needs. The timing also means that significant digital revenue opportunities still exist to be realized.

Given that the demand for local community information is expected to exist for the long term, Glacier expects to be able to monetize the information and marketing value through advertising and other revenue sources for the long term. As 85% of Glacier’s local newspaper distribution is free, this also provides for a more durable reach of readership for advertisers over time wherein total market coverage can always be provided.

Given that cash flow is growing and debt is at 2.1x EBITA, Glacier is reviewing acquisition opportunities that fit with the Company’s business strategy. Given the current juncture of the business cycle, many attractive opportunities are expected to arise.

I’ve bolded two things of note. First, the reference to smart phone and tablet platforms. It may not be a coincidence that the Glacier-owned PR Peak just launched its new smart phone app last week.

Secondly, Glacier may buy new papers. That, I think, is probably good news, given the company’s not-terrible reputation for cutting jobs and quality.

Get your e-newspaper delivered weekly

March 30, 2011 Comments off

If apps are the news delivery system of the future, news digests sent directly to your inbox are the way of the Internet past.

Which is not to say they’re not a good idea.

Now, when you visit certain (all?) Glacier Media websites, you first have to get rid of a box asking if you would like to subscribe to a web edition of the paper to be delivered to your e-mail on certain dates.

This isn’t a new idea and doesn’t exactly involve advanced technology. Heck, you can sign up for an email subscription to this blog by clicking the button on the right toolbar. But for people who aren’t web savvy consumers (a group that includes the vast majority of Canadians and newspaper readers) being confronted with the option to sign up for an email digest is the best way to make the option known.

The email digest, in turn, allows newspapers another way to brag to advertisers about dedicated online readers. Each one of those subscribers is probably far more valuable than 1,000 page views.

Of course, you don’t want to make visiting the news sites annoying (like the feeling that comes from that pop-up video ad on many Black Press websites).

You can make the alerts stop by checking a box. But remember what I said above about the Internet literacy of Canadians? I bet most people will miss that. Glacier, then, will have to be careful not to make the box a permanent and regular feature of visiting their sites. (They seem to have done so. I can’t get the subscription box back up on my screen, even though I didn’t click the box).

Categories: Technology Tags: ,
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