Three Big Publishers Tell Same Sad Story

Continuing to bang the drum slowly, Editor & Publisher reported financial results from three big newspaper publishers on Wednesday, each of them dismal:

  • Journal Communications’ February revenue fell 7.5%, dragged down by catastrophic results at the flagship Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Check out these numbers from the Brew City: national ads down 31%, direct marketing down 54%, help-wanted ads down 31% and real estate ads down 26%. The only bright spot was online revenue, which was up 16%, but only to $1.1 million.
  • McClatchy had a similar tale of woe, reporting that total revenue in February slid 11.7%. National advertising was off nearly 13%, while classified advertising declined 25%. The recession hit classifieds particularly hard as real estate and employment advertising both dropped more than 30%
  • Finally, The New York Times Co. said that ad sales that fell 6.6% in February, largely due to plunging classified revenue (off 19%) and double-digit advertising declines at its New England group, including the Boston Globe. While the Times stopped short of blaming God for its troubles, it did note that March results will be “adversely affected” by the early Easter this year. Easter is traditionally a slow advertising period.

There was one bright spot, though. USA Today advertising jumped 14.5% in February. “Strong growth in the travel, technology, financial, packaged goods, retail, advocacy and pharmaceutical categories offset lagging the telecommunications and automotive advertising at the paper, Gannett said.” Here at the Death Watch, we’ve been saying all along that a few national newspapers will survive and actually thrive as the industry collapses. Count on The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and USA Today to come out the other end, as all made the jump to national distribution when they had the chance. Business travelers need a morning paper, and that’s an attractive audience for national advertisers.

And Yet Editors Still Don’t Get It

Here’s another indication that newspaper editors are still blissfully clueless about the long tail. The fifth annual “State of the American News Media” study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that as newspapers cut staff, they’re actually concentrating their remaining resources in fewer places, which means they’re overlapping each other more. “You have in a sense more reporters across more outlets, but they are all covering a fairly narrow band of stories,” the project’s director told Reuters. “There are more people congregating at the White House, fewer at any one government agency.” So we’re still going to have 150 reporters covering a presidential press conference at which everyone sees the same thing instead of cutting back on White House coverage and redeploying staff locally, where it might actually do us some good.

Recognizing Unsung Victims of Newspaper Meltdown

MarketWatch Video deploys an international team of journalists to rip the lid off the story of the unappreciated victims of the newspaper industry implosion: journalist bars. The seven-minute story takes us to San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York, where bartenders reminisce about five-hour lunches and payday parties and mourn the decline of conversation. There’s even a 45-second clip from London, where the reporter’s only apparent contribution to the story is to show us that he’s in London. Hey, that’s more than the Boston Globe can say!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008 at 6:57 am and is filed under Advertising, BusinessModel, Classifieds, NewMedia, Newspapers, OnlineMedia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments Off on Wednesday's Earnings Trifecta: Everyone Loses

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  1. March 20, 2008 @ 11:30 am



    […] Wednesday’s Earnings Trifecta: Everyone Loses. What? You were expecting good news from a site called Newspaper Deathwatch? (Actually, there is a spot of good news from USA Today, but the numbers in the bad news are depressingly large.) […]