By paulgillin | April 1, 2008 - 7:43 am - Posted in Fake News, Google, Paywalls

We have a stack of good news about the reinvention of journalism that we really, really will get to you ASAP. It’s just that this depressing stuff keeps coming up.

2007 Newspaper Ad Plunge Was Worst in a Half Century

You’ve got to admire John Sturm, the CEO of the Newspaper Association of America. Here’s his quote in Editor & Publisher, commenting on news that the newspaper industry experienced its worst one-year drop in advertising revenue in 50 years in 2007: “Even with the near-term challenges posed to print media by a more fragmented information environment and the economic headwinds facing all advertising media, newspapers publishers are continuing to drive strong revenue growth from their increasingly robust Web platforms.”

You get the sense that John is the kind of guy who could find a silver lining behind any cloud. In this case, it’s the news that online revenue now represents 7.5% of overall newspaper ad revenue, up from 5.7% the previous year. The “near-term challenges” are that print ad revenue plunged 9.4%. Run the numbers, and you can attribute at least half of the gains in online revenue to the fact that the whole pie is getting smaller.

Newsweek Cuts 111, Including Many Top Critics

Newsweek is buying out 111 staffers, reports Radar, and a lot of institutional memory is going out the door. Quoting: “Among those leaving are some of the magazine’s best-known, most-admired and longest-service critics, including David Gates, David Ansen and Cathleen McGuigan. Harold Shain…All of the chief researchers are also leaving, including Nancy Stadtman, Ray Sawhill and Ray Anello, and their positions may be eliminated.” The report doesn’t say what percentage of the total staff this represents, but the cuts were probably inevitable in light of the recent 16% decline in newsstand sales.

Cuts aren’t just in print

Online technology publisher CNet has laid off 120 people, or about 10% of its workforce. The cuts were announced suddenly and were immediate, with no grace period. International Business Times has the details and the corporatese memo from the CEO. CNet is suffering from an overall downturn in tech ad spending, the result of consolidation and lack of new startup activity in the IT market. It’s also being pecked to death by ducks, as bloggers steal traffic in dribs and drabs. TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington remarks on this phenomenon, but suggests that bloggers will have to band together to form a significant media entity. He says it’s going to happen, though.

Malaise is apparently spreading into local broadcast media. U.S. New’ Liz Wolgemuth reports that TV stations in Miami, Denver and Sacramento have laid off staff. A commenter says it happened in Dallas, too.

Short Takes

One of the few newspaper chains to resist the recent write-down frenzy, Lee Enterprises, finally swallowed the bitter pill, taking $500 million to $700 million in lost goodwill charges for the first quarter. A defiant management statement said the current stock price undervalues the company.

LA Observed has assembled some of the parting e-mails sent by laid-off staffers at the LA Times. Several take shots at TribCo owner Sam Zell. “You want people to ‘Talk to Sam’ but not to ‘Talkback to Sam,'” says one.

As If You Didn’t Know, “The State of the News Media Is Troubled”

If you don’t have time to read the voluminous (180,000-word) State of the Media Report, J.D. Lasica gives a pretty fine overview here. Summarizing his summary: The old “destination” model is dead. The job of the news organization today is as much to direct people to information as to tell stories. The big-brand news organizations may have even more throw weight online than they do in print. The vast democratization of news that was expected isn’t occurring. In the age of search, every story is a home page (we liked this one). More reporting will consist of incremental updates, some even being simple e-mail or Twitter messages.



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Comments Off on Numbers Confirm '07 Was Year to Forget


  1. April 2, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

    I think the only thing worse than working for a newspaper these days is working for a magazine. They appear worse off than anyone.

    Posted by Newspaperfan