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January 3, 2008 / Toby Dayton

Cincinnati Post Shuts Down Its Presses; Prediction #1 Almost Comes True Before Year Even Starts

On New Year’s eve, I wrote a post of my predictions for the year. The last prediction was that by the end of 2008, at least one major metro market in the U.S. would lose its daily newspaper altogether. I should have elaborated slightly to better define the parameters I envisioned, but I elected to keep it somewhat vague to improve my chances of being accurate. Had I included those parameters, I would have stated that the metro market needed to be in the top 100, that the market was served primarily by a single daily newspaper, and that the paper would stop printing but could continue to exist in an online-only format.

Before the day was even over, my prediction almost came true when the Cincinnati Post announced that it was printing its last edition and moving to an online only format – kypost.com. While this is a fairly significant event in the ongoing demise of the daily newspaper industry, it does not qualify as fulfilling my prediction. The Cincinnati Post, a 126 year-old paper owned by E.W. Scripps, was one of the few remaining afternoon dailies in the country, and the market is primarily served by the Cincinnati Enquirer, owned by Gannett. When a joint operating agreement with the Enquirer expired on 12/31/07, the Post elected to stop the presses. Nevertheless, I think the announcement is a harbinger of worse things to come in 2008 (despite arguments to the contrary) as the daily newspapers continue to struggle mightily in the face of fierce competition, inept management, deteriorating economics, a weakening value proposition, and an inability to adapt with sufficient alacrity to changing media and technology landscapes. While stock prices and market caps are not perfect measures, I’d argue that markets are relatively efficient in the long run, and losing $23 billion in value or 42% of total value in just 3 years stands as a pretty good sign that the industry is in really, really tough shape.

As a side note, thanks to John Sumser and Jason Davis for their kind comments. I couldn’t find a link to where Jason posted his comments, so I had to post them here (when your blog notoriety is as low as mine, you have to highlight the compliments wherever you can):

“I think though it is important that people with blogs remember that just having a blog that promotes your own business is not really a blog as far as I am concerned. You need to link to others and write about things for the most part that have nothing to do with your own company but rather the industry that you operate in. For instance, there [are a lot of blogs that do] nothing other than to promote themselves (99% of the time). Then you can look at Toby Dayton’s blog ‘Diggings’ and it is full of stuff that has nothing to do with his own company – that is a real good thing and keeping in line with a blog. I suspect this is why it has been nominated for one of the best recruiting blogs of 2007″

[tags]Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati Enquirer, Gannett, E.W. Scripps, Daily Newspapers, Decline of the Dailies, Newspapers Are Dying, Newspaper Industry, John Sumser, Jason Davis[/tags]

7 Comments

  1. Jason Davis / Jan 4 2008 11:12 pm

    2008 is going to be fun and interesting. Did you see the bit about Monster buying that company for all those millions? I’m sure you did. I just saw it for the first time about 2 hours ago.

  2. Jason / Oct 23 2008 7:46 pm

    Wow. What a prediction. The closing of The Cincinnati Post was announced THREE YEARS beforehand when its Joint Operation Agreement with the Cincinnati Enquirer was not renewed. Everyone and their brother knew it was closing looooooong before it actually did. No tarot cards needed.

    • Toby Dayton / Oct 23 2008 8:52 pm

      Jason – If you read my prediction or even the post you commented on carefully (or even the headline where the word ‘Almost’ stands out as the key word), you’d realize that I did not count the closure as fulfilling my prediction about a major metro market losing its daily. And by the way, I do not live in Cincinnati, nor do I cover the newspaper publishing industry full-time as an analyst or in some other capacity, so I was not aware of the pending closure when I made my predictions. My guess is that other than publishing industry wonks and Cincinnatians (if that’s the right word), no one had a clue that the Post was planning on shutting down. The prediction I made on 12/31/07 was a bold one and it has not yet proven to be a correct one, though a few months remain and the prediction is undoubtedly closer to becoming a reality every week that goes by.

  3. Jason / Oct 23 2008 2:46 pm

    Wow. What a prediction. The closing of The Cincinnati Post was announced THREE YEARS beforehand when its Joint Operation Agreement with the Cincinnati Enquirer was not renewed. Everyone and their brother knew it was closing looooooong before it actually did. No tarot cards needed.

    • Toby Dayton / Oct 23 2008 3:52 pm

      Jason – If you read my prediction or even the post you commented on carefully (or even the headline where the word 'Almost' stands out as the key word), you'd realize that I did not count the closure as fulfilling my prediction about a major metro market losing its daily. And by the way, I do not live in Cincinnati, nor do I cover the newspaper publishing industry full-time as an analyst or in some other capacity, so I was not aware of the pending closure when I made my predictions. My guess is that other than publishing industry wonks and Cincinnatians (if that's the right word), no one had a clue that the Post was planning on shutting down. The prediction I made on 12/31/07 was a bold one and it has not yet proven to be a correct one, though a few months remain and the prediction is undoubtedly closer to becoming a reality every week that goes by.

  4. Jason / Oct 23 2008 7:46 pm

    Wow. What a prediction. The closing of The Cincinnati Post was announced THREE YEARS beforehand when its Joint Operation Agreement with the Cincinnati Enquirer was not renewed. Everyone and their brother knew it was closing looooooong before it actually did. No tarot cards needed.

  5. Toby Dayton / Oct 23 2008 8:52 pm

    Jason – If you read my prediction or even the post you commented on carefully (or even the headline where the word 'Almost' stands out as the key word), you'd realize that I did not count the closure as fulfilling my prediction about a major metro market losing its daily. And by the way, I do not live in Cincinnati, nor do I cover the newspaper publishing industry full-time as an analyst or in some other capacity, so I was not aware of the pending closure when I made my predictions. My guess is that other than publishing industry wonks and Cincinnatians (if that's the right word), no one had a clue that the Post was planning on shutting down. The prediction I made on 12/31/07 was a bold one and it has not yet proven to be a correct one, though a few months remain and the prediction is undoubtedly closer to becoming a reality every week that goes by.

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