By paulgillin | January 5, 2008 - 9:01 am - Posted in BusinessModel, Circulation, Journalism, Layoffs, NewMedia, Newspapers

The end of the year was a good time for newspaper insiders and critics alike to review a pretty terrible year and wonder what come next.

$23B zapped in news stock value – Reflections of a Newsosaur, Jan. 1, 2008
[Alan Mutter runs the numbers and concludes that US newspaper companies have lost 42% of their market value in the last three years, with the majority of that decline coming in 2007. He further suggests that Wall Street’s lack of confidence in newspaper stocks is an indication that investors don’t believe that newspaper executives know how to pull out of the tailspin. As usual, his analysis is well-researched and pointed. – Ed.]

Lee CEO Junck Optimistic About Newspaper Biz – Editor & Publisher, Dec. 31, 2007

[A newspaper CEO points proudly to a year in which her company’s financial performance sucked less than that of its competitors’. -Ed.]

Enduring Values in a Time of Change – washingtonpost.com, Dec. 30, 2007

[The Washington Post’s ombudsman looks on the bright side. Deborah Howell starts by detailing the declines in circulation and revenue at the paper, but finishes by describing the shift in attitude about the Web that’s occurred among the reportorial staff. While it’s clear that some are adapting to the new online channels out of self-preservation, Howell clearly believes that most of the staff is embracing new media and trying to reinvent the paper. -Ed.]

‘Cincinnati Post’ Closes, Other Newspapers Outsource To India – MediaPost, Dec. 31, 2007

Quoting: “The Miami Herald announced Thursday that it is outsourcing some advertising production tasks to India as a cost-cutting measure, beginning in January. The New Delhi firm Mindworks will handle copy editing and design for special advertising sections, including a weekly community section covering Broward County. So far, the move hasn’t resulted in any layoffs in the paper’s Florida offices. However, Herald executives say the outsourcing is a test–implying that some jobs could go to India if it proves successful.

“The Miami Herald is actually the second newspaper owned by the McClatchy Co. to outsource to India. At the beginning of December, The Sacramento Bee also said it would experiment with outsourcing some ad production tasks.”

[This really isn’t surprising. Many functions associated with running a daily newspaper can be managed remotely, and why pay $25/hour to someone in the US when you can get the job done for $5/hour overseas? These early outsourcing experiments have sparked considerable teeth-gnashing in the newspaper industry, which is interesting, considering that creative cost-cutting initiatives like these are clearly needed. – Ed.]

Old and new clash in a struggle for dominance – The Boston Globe, Dec. 30, 2007
[A Globe columnist sums up the rough year that mainstream media has had and asks what’s next. “As old embraces new, some fear that the basic function of old media – watchdog, investigator, pillar of democracy – will be lost in a sea of microtargeting and snark,” she says. It’s an interesting observation, because blogging is, in many respects, the epitome of democracy and communities have proven to be pretty good watchdogs when they’re given a forum to talk about what they see. As for the investigator role, we’re still working out how to sustain that valuable function in the new world. Sending 2,500 reporters to cover the Iowa caucuses was not a great PR move for the newspaper industry. -Ed.]

Album Sales Plunge, Music Biz Rethinks – Media Post, Jan. 4, 2008
[The topic isn’t newspapers here, but the dynamics that are killing the music industry are meaningful to any mainstream media business. Record companies have long resisted buyers’ demands that they provide more flexible means to acquire their products. They’ve stubbornly refused, insisting that consumers buy an entire album, even if they only want to listen to one song. So customers have stopped buying, and now the recording industry is paying the price. Album sales are off a stunning 15% year-over-year, continuing a long-term decline. A desperate industry is forced to resort to desperate measures, but their reputation is so tattered that it’s questionable whether customers will give them another chance. This is a harsh lesson of the digital media age. -Ed.]

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