Earnings Drumbeat Continues, but With Fewer Surprises

Gannett’s quarterly earnings continued the pattern established by the New York Times Co. and Media General last week, but at least they weren’t surprising. Earnings were down 9% on an 8% drop in revenue. The industry-wide slump in classified ad revenue pulled down the numbers, with real estate and recruitment ad sales both down more than 24%. Gannett continues to benefit from having USA Today, which saw actual growth in the entertainment, financial and advocacy (whatever that is) categories. However, total ad pages at the national newspaper were still off 14%.

There was nothing from Lee Enterprises or JH Belo to lift investors’ spirits. Lee hit a 52-week low after reporting a quarterly loss while Belo’s new pure-play newspaper company said its results would disappoint. Both got slammed on Wall Street. However, investors rewarded NYT Co. and Media General for making progress in their shareholder battles.


Tacoda founder Dave Morgan writes in Media Post that a lot of big media companies are going to collapse, victims of declining revenues and high fixed costs. We agree, and we said as much nearly two years ago. Morgan sees opportunity in decline. The collapse of many metro newspapers will create a vacuum for distribution channels that can deliver sponsorship messages to local communities. He speculates on those opportunities.


The Associated Press is doing its part to throw them a lifeline, however. It’s cutting its fees in response to protests from newspapers. The move will save members about $14 million in total, or more than double the savings of the original AP proposal. Attendees at the recent American Society of Newspaper Editors convention were reportedly still grousing about the charges, though.

Would Founding Fathers Have Defended Behavioral Targeting?

The Newspaper Association of America has weighed in on the Federal Trade Commission’s debate about privacy standards over behavioral targeting, taking the unusual stance that this is a First Amendment issue. According to the group, publishers should not be infringer in any way from delivering ads, even if that means collecting information about people’s onliine activities that could potentially reveal their identities. Apparently the NAA feels that since the Constitution doesn’t guarantee a right to privacy but does guarantee a right to free speech, behavioral tracking is legally protected.

The Changing Ad World

Louis Hau writes in Forbes about the increasing chuminess between editors and ad sales people. This is a new fact of life, he suggests. Newspaper ad sales people haven’t historically been oriented toward developing new lines of business, so they need all the help they can get. Editors need to cooperate on business opportunities in order to keep their jobs. This new reality challenges the traditional church-state separation of mainstream journalism, but we’d better get used to it because this is the way media is evolving.

Ohio Papers Try Sharing

A group of Ohio newspapers has gotten together to share stories and even reporting assignments in a novel response to the cost-cutting pressure that all newspapers are feeling. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, Toledo Blade, Cincinnati Enquirer and Akron Beacon Journal now post all their daily stories on a private website where editors can pick whatever they want and publish it in their own pages. The idea goes against reporters’ natural competitive spirit, but it’s probably delivering better news to the readers. The outlets are even teaming on some joint reporting projects. So instead of having five different papers covering the same state house story, they’re actually spreading around their resources and minimizing duplication of effort.

Debating Old vs. New Media

The New York Times’s Sunday blockbuster story about the Pentagon’s secret media manipulation campaign is generating some understandable chest-thumping by newspaper editors. Crosscut Seattle comments that a story like that took shoe leather, not laptops, and praises its local journals for being willing to go to court to get access to secret documents. No blogger is going to go that extra step, says editor Chuck Taylor.


CBS has launched a citizen journalism website where people can upload news by cell phone, Editors Weblog reports. What will be really cool is when news organizations don’t relegate citizen journalism to an online ghetto and actually start integrating readers’ comments with staff reports on their main sites. This short article points to a couple of examples of that.


Glenn Frankel, Hearst Professional in Residence at Stanford University and former Washington Post reporter, writes Romenesko a tongue-in-cheek commentary on Slate columnist Jack Shafer’s recent counter-intuitive sermon in praise of buyouts. Frankel comments on a recent visit to the SJ Merc: “The spaciousness and the blessed silence reminded me of the peace and tranquility I found in abandoned villages in Kurdistan in 1991 after the Iraqi army had passed through during its own special buy-out program.”

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 at 11:11 pm and is filed under Advertising, blogging, Citizen Journalism, Journalism, NewMedia, Newspapers, OnlineMedia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  1. January 30, 2009 @ 3:01 am



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