By paulgillin | August 12, 2007 - 8:39 am - Posted in Advertising, BusinessModel, Circulation, Classifieds, Layoffs, Newspapers

Two published items caught my attention today because they focus on issues that are so microscopic in the context of the newspaper industry’s accelerating collapse that they barely seem to merit attention. Both appear in Editor & Publisher.

Letter writers Leo J. Shapiro, Erik Shapiro, and Steve Yahn argue that “There ‘Auto’ Be A Change for Newspaper Ads” because of changing demographic trends. People are keeping their cars longer, which will lead to declining auto sales in the long term and fewer auto ads, they say. But there’s good news: more people are riding bikes and taking public transportation! So get out there and sell those bike ads. And you circ directors, start marketing more aggressively to commuter rail stations!

Auto advertising, a profitable staple of newspaper income statements, was off a disastrous 13% last year. The overall decline in US auto sales will only worsen that very bad situation. I don’t see bicycle ads picking up much of the slack. As far as public transportation goes, the authors’ characterization of the increase in mass transit ridership from 2% to 2.8% of the US population over the past decade as a “sharp” rise needs no comment.

Also in E&P, editor Joe Strup asks “Will Consolidation at MediaNews Group Kill Guild?”. This issue is over the consolidation of two northern California newspapers, a business decision that will almost certainly lead to layoffs.

Questioning the impact of a move like this on the power of the Newspaper Guild is like worrying about a dent in the fender of your car that was just stolen. Of course the Guild will lose influence. Newspaper publishers are fighting just to stay alive. Who cares about the Guild’s bargaining power when the publisher has nothing to bargain with? We don’t hear much from the once-obstreperous United Auto Workers any more, do we?

You have to wonder what service E&P believes it’s providing by focusing on minutiae like this when much weightier problems face its readers.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 12th, 2007 at 8:39 am and is filed under Advertising, BusinessModel, Circulation, Classifieds, Layoffs, Newspapers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments Off on Whistling past the graveyard

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  1. August 12, 2007 @ 10:55 pm



    […] Whistling past the graveyard. Paul Gillin wonders why Editor & Publisher is concentrating on small stuff. […]