By paulgillin | July 28, 2009 - 6:11 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News

The New York Times Co. swung to an unexpected profit in the second quarter, although the turnaround had nothing to do with an improving business. Revenue at the company plunged 30%, which was even worse than the decline in the first quarter. The Times Co.’s success in reducing costs was the hero; expenses in the quarter were $450 million lower than a year ago. However, total revenues clocked in at $584 million, which was $19 million less than analysts expected.  The news did nothing to lift shares of the company’s stock, probably because analysts weren’t impressed by the sales performance. Even online revenues were down 22% because of weak recruitment advertising sales. The good news: The company has cut its debt from $1.3 billion to about $1 billion and is expected to slash that burden further with the expected sale of the New England News Group and the company’s share in the Boston Red Sox.

Sale of the New England News Group? Editor & Publisher‘s Jennifer Saba listened to the earnings call and heard evidence that the Times Co. may not be in such a hurry to sell the Globe after all. Cost cuts combined with circulation revenue increases have apparently put the enterprise on more stable ground.

McClatchy results were similar to the Times’, with ad revenue falling 30.2% and overall revenue tumbling 25.4% from a year earlier. Still, McClatchy managed to post a 43% increase in income on the back of stringent cost-cutting. Employment classifieds were off a gut-wrenching 62.5% as overall classified revenue fell 41% to $80 million from $135 million a year earlier. McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt said digital advertising was up as a proportion of total ad revenues, but that’s only because total revenues were down so much.


CronkiteOf all the tributes paid to Walter Cronkite over the last week, nothing topped this recollection from the Christian Science Monitor’s John Yemma. The story epitomizes Cronkite’s quiet greatness.

Meanwhile, Slate’s Jack Shafer takes a contrarian view, arguing that Cronkite’s legacy of trust emanated from a single survey of dubious quality combined with FCC regulations that required news broadcasters to remain impartial. Trust isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, says Shafer, noting that PBS’ critically acclaimed News Hour is actually losing viewers to the partisan and popular news programming of the cable channels.

Ken Doctor says Yahoo’s new deal with AT&T is bad news for the beleaguered newspaper industry. The partnership means AT&T’s 5,000 ad sales people will now be out in the field selling small and mid-sized businesses on the glory of the Yahoo ad network. Until now, that role was filled almost exclusively by reps in the Yahoo’s 800-member newspaper network. Doctor says newspapers are finally getting religion about the merits of small-business advertising, a market that is estimated to exceed $25 billion annually. With national account display advertising falling like a stone, newspapers have to make a more compelling play for the local dry cleaner. Many of them are doing that, but the addition of 5,000 new competitors selling the same product can’t be much help.

The Ann Arbor News published its last daily edition last week, ending 174 years of continuous operation. The new Ann Arbor News will be a twice-weekly print newspaper with a continuously updated website.

The Associated Press will cut fees to print nad broadcast subscribers  by $45 million next year on top of $30 million in fee reductions already enacted this year. Total revenues are believed to have declined more than 6% this year and another big drop is forecast for 2010. A reduction of about 10% of its workforce is ongoing through the end of this year.

JD Lasica riffs on a meeting that we also attended last week with representatives of 10 mid-sized newspapers. The assembled editors and publishers were challenged to come up with ideas for reinventing their organizations and, while Lasica believes they still could have gone farther, he’s heartened by their innovation and positive thinking. One problem many participants complained about, however, is that they will go back to their managers and be challenged to show 25% first-year returns for their ideas. Some executives still just don’t get it.



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