Vignettes from the field

Our RSS reader picks up occasional commentary by newspaper readers and former journalists that provide a glimpse into how the newspaper industry collapse is affecting ordinary people:

  • A Bay Area book enthusiast laments the Chron’s decision to fold its stand-alone book review section into the weekly news analysis pages.
  • A Twin Cities consultant lists the reasons he’s canceling his newspaper subscription. There are several. Like many readers, he simply doesn’t see much value any more. As newspapers slash costs and staff, the devaluation spiral continues. The product gets worse, which gives readers less inclination to read it.
  • Mark Hamilton remarks wryly on the dubious value of incessant political polling
  • Finally, the head of global public relations for Disney Parks & Resorts issues the most pessimistic forecast for the newspaper industry that we’ve heard anywhere. At about 10:20 in this podcast interview Eric Schwartzman, Disney’s Duncan Wardle states, “The printed newspaper industry has three to five years to live.” We hope his staff heard that!

Business sections feel the blow

Newspaper business sections have been hard hit by the ad downturn,

says Advertising Age. “The Denver Post — which folded its business section into other sections on every day but Sunday — just became at least the eighth daily to cut its stand-alone daily business section since early 2007. The Orange County Register made a similar move just a week earlier…analysts, advertisers and publishers say that the stand-alone sections were relatively poor sources of ad revenue that tended to be over-matched by national and online competition on anything beyond the most hyperlocal stories…A study by Arizona State University’s National Center for Business Journalism found that roughly 75% of daily newspapers today run, on average, one page or less of business news a day, and only one in eight daily papers runs a stand-alone section.”

Meanwhile, European specialty publisher Reed is going one stop further. It’s eliminating not just the business section but the whole business. Instead, it’ll double down on online media and risk analytics.

Glimmers of digital hope

The U.S. political campaign has apparently given a lift to newspaper websites, according to Media Post. Quoting: “The week ending February 23 saw visits to Web sites in Hitwise’s news and media category increase 22% compared to the same week in 2007. The upswing especially benefited Web sites for print publications, including online portals for magazines and newspapers. The New York Times Web site was the winner in the print category, taking 5% of total visits–a 50% increase in visits over last year. It was followed by People.com, with 3%, and The Washington Post, with 2%.”

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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2008 at 7:06 am and is filed under Advertising, BusinessModel, Journalism, NewMedia, Newspapers, PR. 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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