The New Yorker proclaims newspapers “Out of Print”

The New Yorker proclaims newspapers “Out of Print”

Okay, I hadn’t seen this when I posted my previous bit.  All in all its a very bad day for the print media. 

Quoting from Eric Alterman’s article:

…trends in circulation and advertising––the rise of the Internet, which has made the daily newspaper look slow and unresponsive; the advent of Craigslist, which is wiping out classified advertising––have created a palpable sense of doom. Independent, publicly traded American newspapers have lost forty-two per cent of their market value in the past three years, according to the media entrepreneur Alan Mutter. Few corporations have been punished on Wall Street the way those who dare to invest in the newspaper business have. The McClatchy Company, which was the only company to bid on the Knight Ridder chain when, in 2005, it was put on the auction block, has surrendered more than eighty per cent of its stock value since making the $6.5-billion purchase. Lee Enterprises’ stock is down by three-quarters since it bought out the Pulitzer chain, the same year. America’s most prized journalistic possessions are suddenly looking like corporate millstones. Rather than compete in an era of merciless transformation, the families that owned the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal sold off the majority of their holdings. The New York Times Company has seen its stock decline by fifty-four per cent since the end of 2004, with much of the loss coming in the past year; in late February, an analyst at Deutsche Bank recommended that clients sell off their Times stock. The Washington Post Company has avoided a similar fate only by rebranding itself an “education and media company”; its testing and prep company, Kaplan, now brings in at least half the company’s revenue.

This was also the subject of the entire “This Week In Tech” Podcast with Leo Laporte which came out this morning.  Some very salient points were made:

  • Although we decry the bias of media, in many ways we are moving towards a model that actually limits the information we get.  In other words, we’re gravitating towards media/information selections and communities that limit the information we get to that which we wish to get.  Basically, the opposite of the long tail may be happening here.  Instead of a real diaspora of information, we are being given choices and choosing less rather than more. 
  • Leo Laporte makes the point that newspapers are absolutely necessary, as primary sources.  Bloggers, like myself, generally aren’t or are at best, poor primary sources.  The newspapers due to clout, training and access are the ones to do the investigative journalism we need.
  • Although it’s an easy judgement to make, print newspapers aren’t dead – and they won’t be for a long time, if ever.

Listen to the full podcast here (The Innovators Dilemma – episode 138).  It’s a wonderful commentary…and I can’t wait to hear with the This Week in Media crew have to say later in the week.

Alan Mutter at Reflections of a Newsosaur had this on Saturday, dissecting the decline:

Despite the repeated promises of publishers to recast their struggling franchises as signficiant online entitites, last year’s interactive revenues amounted to no more than 7% of total newspaper industry sales. This meager performance was achieved in spite of the fact that print sales, which represent the vast bulk of the denominator in this ratio, fell by 9.4%.

Further, the 18.8% jump in online revenues at newspapers was only three-quarters of the size of the 25% annual sales increase that powered over-all online sales to a record $21.2 billion in 2007. So, newspapers are trailing considerably in online market share at the same time their traditional print advertising business is melting down.

David Churbuck has a bit on this as well:

I want to see the percentage state of online revenue in the newspaper industry — that last paragraph infers a decline in online revenue for newspapers, which I know is not the case in the UK at least.

I’ll post more in the coming days as I ruminate more on the issue.

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