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But in the 2009 projections, filed in court in December, Creative Loafing lists the chain’s editorial budget at $4.4 million, just over 15 percent of its projected total revenues of $29 million.
“It sounds like he does not have a good enough handle of our plan to be making some of the comments he’s been making,” says Eason, who has not spoken with Conley personally.
This implies that Eason is responding to the issue of whether he has mandated 10 percent editorial budgets, and Maldonado is slyly trying to gig Conley for not knowing Eason's business by asserting that Eason's papers spend 15 percent on editorial.
Maldonado is wrong. A little thought would have produced the answer. Eason's revenues are declining so fast, he can't slash employees with sufficient speed to maintain the percentages. He most definitely has tried to lock his newspapers into 10 percent editorial budgets, and he has done that without regard to what it did to content and, ultimately, readership. He also flatly refused to recognize very clear financial evidence from a 2001 survey by the Association of Alternative Newspapers that papers that spent in the 13-14 percent range on editorial had higher profit margins than those that spent in the 10 percent range.
The result is clear. The content at Eason's papers is a shadow of what it was a few years ago. Media Audits, which surveys readership, reported recently that for the first time Sunday Paper in Atlanta has surpassed Creative Loafing in people who have "read last issue." (Eason's managers dispute that finding.) And, currently on the stands this week, Sunday Paper is 80 pages and profitable, while Creative Loafing is 56 pages and losing money.
(For the record, I am the former senior editor of the Creative Loafing group, and a shareholder. I do not support Eason's bankruptcy strategy.)
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