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Star-Telegram, rose $1 to $369.75 a share. Editors at the Star-Telegram, the state’s fourth-largest daily with a circulation of more than 244,000 and Sunday circulation of more than 336,000, said they still plan to concentrate on Tarrant County, but executives at the Fort Worth paper may have cause to dread the departure of the Times Herald. With that score settled, the News can now turn to the next turf war, over the lucrative Mid-Cities. Things are tough all over Before the demise of the Times Herald, 94 Texas newspapers had a daily circulation estimated by the Texas Daily Newspaper Association at 3.9 million. The TDNA did not have comparisons with previous years, but executive director Phil Berkebile noted that circulation has been on the decline nationwide, generally tracking the decline in literacy among Americans. Texas literacy officials expect the latest census figures to show more than one-third of adults 18 and older are functionally illiterate. The state ranks third in the nation in the percentage of under-educated adults, ahead of Mississippi and Louisiana. This translates to nearly four million Texans who have difficulty reading a newspaper. The death of the Times Herald and other, lesspublicized layoffs at other Texas newspapers, have reminded reporters that they are at the mercy of their publishers, who face pressure from corporate directors to maintain profits in the face of shrinking ad revenues. \(At least the 60 days of severance pay and benefits for unemployed Times Herald staffers was a touch of decency. When I was laid off after sevenand-a-half years with the Beaumont Enterprise, along with .17 other Enterprise employees , nine in the newsroom, we each received three weeks’ Only 120 newsrooms are unionized out of more than 1,600 newspapers in the United States..The Newspaper Guild, based in Silver Springs;’ ‘Md., represents 40,000 newsroom worketS in the United States and Canada, but its president, Chuck Dale, said Guild:organized newsrooms have sustained a 10-percent loss in the past 18 months. “I’ve been around the newspaper industry 40 years and ‘a member of the Newspaper Guild 36 ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SOUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip years and this is the first time a recession has impacted on the newspaper industry,” he said. With advertising revenue down 7 percent nationally, according to the Newspaper Advertising Bureau, Dale said he sympathizes with news executives, but he also believes they are partly to blame because, until now, editorial boards have largely ignored the nation’s economic problems. “I think the newspaper industry is gutless when it comes to talking about the economy,” he said. Publishers and news executives are unanimously pessimistic about the economy, he said, but they have balked at drawing attention to the problems. He attributed the silence of editorial boards to an unwillingness to upset advertisers. “If they were screaming about economic conditions, a whole lot more politicians would take a lot more notice,” he said. In the meantime, he said, newspaper executives “are going to be the victims of their own goddamned apathy.” Dale does not see any relief in the near future. “I thought it bottomed out toward the end of the summer, but as the bean counters close out the year and total the profits and losses … I expect more layoffs in the early part of next year,” he said. For the nine months ending Sept. 30, Gannett profits were down 25 percent. New York Times Co. profits were down 76 percent and Affiliated Publications, publisher of the Boston Globe, watched profits plunge 94 percent. Newspaper executives have grown accustomed to profits of more than 20 percent, he said, so executives panicked when those profits got into the single digits. “If they’re only making four-and-a-half or five percent, you know damn well they’re going to be looking at ways to get those profits up and the easiest way is to cut staff.” Weeklies offer alternatives With the death of the Times Herald, one hope for an alternative editorial voice in Dallas may be the Dallas Observer, a weekly newspaper with a free circulation of 85,000. It recently was purchased by Phoenix-based New Times Inc., which also operates weekly papers in Phoenix, Denver and Miami. “In a situation like this, where a town becomes a one-newspaper town, an alternative newspaper can expand its readership and its clout,” said Don Hazen, executive director of the Institute for Alternative Journalism, based in Washington,. D.C. Alternative papers are attracting the young readers daily newspapers are failing to attract, Hazen said. “Over the last 10 years, the number of people between the ages of 25 and 35 that are regular readers of daily newspapers has been cut in half,” he said. In the case of Dallas, he said, “What I’d like to see is an alternative paper with a local and national mix,” he said. “We’re seeing more alternative newspapers popping up and there is some competition among alternative weeklies,” Hazen said. The association hopes to provide advice to people who are interested in setting up independent alternative newspapers, he said, but he added, “The secret is advertising. You need somebody who knows how to reach advertisers in the community and provide a service, because most of those papers are distributed free and so they pay for themselves through their advertising.’ Alternative newspapers such as the Dallas Observer are among the few growth areas. Ray Hartmann, publisher of the Riverfront Times in St. Louis and president of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, recently wrote that the alternative press is enjoying growth, which has attracted the attention of the dailies. “By no coincidence, at least three chains of dailies have seen fit to flatter us with imitation alternatives,” he wrote in the group’s fall newsletter. Dale acknowledged that the failure of newspapers such as the Times Herald offers opportunities for weeklies, but that does little good for journalists looking for a livelihood. “Lots of suburban areas and metropolitan areas have throwaways and community shoppers that are doing pretty well for the owners, but in general they’re not such good places to work. They pay starvation wages and generally have little or no health benefits,” he said. “In terms of oppOrtunities for new newspapers, they are slim,” he said. Of course, there will always be a Texas Observer. Austin Catholic Worker Since May, when Lynn Goodman Strauss Sanders organized the Mary House Catholic Worker in Austin, roughly a half-dozen volunteers have provided breakfast for homeless people who gather at the corner of Interstate 35 and First Street each weekday morning at 6:45 a.m. For information call Sanders at 472-6254 or Doug Zachary at 472-3662. Help Heralders The Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators opened an emergency bank account to help 900 former employees of the defunct Dallas Times Herald. The group donated $1,000 to the account and challenged other media organizations to match the donation. The fund, to be administered by the association, will help with housing, food or medical needs. Send donations to: DFW/ABC/Herald Emergency Fund, Account No. 0187101702, P.O. Box 620020, Dallas, Texas 75262-9720. 18 DECEMBER 27, 1991