Calling all bean counters: What does this mean?

(Updated.) Christmas has come early, in the form of internal Gannett financial documents that someone just threw over the transom: the now-defunct Cost & Statistical Summary, complete with profit margins (uh-oh!) for individual newspapers.

Unfortunately, the two reports I’ve obtained are dated and incomplete. One report is for last year’s periods 1-9 — in other words, Jan. 1 through Sept. 30. The other is for all 12 periods of 2006. Also, I don’t have any figures for USA Today.

Still, both reports disclose prior-year figures, so you can see revenue, expense and profit trends at dozens of newspapers as they staggered into what has been a devastating 2008. One paper, for example, lost nearly $10 million in classified advertising alone during the first nine months of last year vs. the same period in 2006, the documents show.

Decoding the categories
Before I post any details, however, I need to understand some of the line-item categories. Here’s a screenshot of those under the “General” column; the full list of items appears at the bottom of this post.

My question concerns the third line, “News. Payroll % of News. Exp.” If the figure reported for, say, The Daily Bugle is 32.5, does that mean payroll was 32.5% of all expenses for the period in question? Also:

  • When and why did Corporate discontinue these reports?
  • Were these replaced with a new type of report?

Now, here’s a screenshot of all the line-items compiled for each newspaper. (I’ve split the column in two, so it takes up less room):

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

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