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July 15, 2008 / Toby Dayton

Daily Newspaper Death Spiral Continues…

My list of blog topics to write about has become exceedingly long, so I’m going to be lazy today and simply list a pile of links to the numerous stories in the past few weeks about the continuing death spiral of the daily newspaper industry.

1. A Durham lawyer is suing the News & Observer, to which he subscribes, for cutting staff and content from the paper.

2. In an effort to ‘right-size’ the paper, creating an equal balance of ad pages and content pages, the Chicago Tribune has cut more staff from the newsroom. They’ll eventually get their balance when both ad pages and content pages are zero.

3. The Guardian, which recently purchased Paidcontent for $30 million, has a great piece about the demise of the newspaper industry. This is a paper that appears to be bucking the trend and thriving these days, so their critique of other dailies is particulalrly poignant. Anyway, the best line of the article relates to management at most daily papers – “The core problem is that too many newspapers tend to be run by blockheads from the top down. This did not matter back in the days when the margins were fat and the competition weak. It is a problem now.”

4. The lanaguage in the coverage of the industry gets stronger and stronger every month. An article in MediaPost uses the word ‘collapse’ for the first time that I can remember.

5. Another article in MediaPost compares the fates of both daily newspapers and radio.

6. This is an old article from May, but the trials and tribulations of the Minneapolis Star Tribune have been noticed overseas, catching the attention of the Guardian.

7. MediaNews Group CEO Dean Singleton’s advice to newspaper execs – stop being so arrogant!

8. Gannett is writing down its assets by $2.8 billion.

9. McClatchy is also making draconian cuts.

10. As papers continue to approach a brutal death, their willingness to maintain high editorial standards and integrity in their business models will be put under increasing strain. While some might argue that a lack of integrity and editorial standards are not new to the industry, and others that cases of failure already abound, the likelihood is that daily newspapers will become even more aggressive in chasing revenue wherever they can get it. As Nick Corcodilos points out, advertorials are one such egregious example.