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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

August 5, 2008 / Toby Dayton

Lots of Newspaper Stories Today…

Once again, my list of stories to write about has expanded too quickly to cover each with its own post, so I’ll resort to a list of interesting things I’ve seen in the last few weeks about the daily newspaper industry.

1. Two daily newspaper publishers, seeing the handwriting on the wall and sensing that the downturn for dailies is only going to get worse, have announced that they are selling their metro daily papers. Copley Press has placed Union-Tribune Publishing, publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune, on the block and Advance Publications has announced it will sell the Newark Star-Ledger unless employees agree to a large-scale buyout.

2. Even the best of the best are being hammered by the downturn. The Washington Post Company announced Q2 financials and reported that newspaper publishing revenue declined by 13%. Luckily, educational services and cable revenue rose significantly, and total revenue for the company rose 6%. Looks like the recent decision to buy some Florida TV stations makes perfect sense. The company also announced that the growth in online advertising revenue was only 4% as compared to 11% in 2007.

3. Dailies are scrambling to capture their share of the local online advertising market, but are finding it exceedingly difficult to compete against newer, smarter, faster, more compelling competitors. Despite the fact that dailies across the country have added nearly 10,000 sales reps focused exclusively on local online ad sales, newspapers have seen their share of the local online advertising market drop from 36% in 2006 to 27% today, according to Borrell Associates.

4. Daily newspapers may be dying in the U.S., but they are thriving in other countries around the world.

5. No wonder the dailies are struggling so badly to maintain some semblance of competitiveness in the classified space. If this is the type of consultant that the dailies are hiring to figure out how to transform their business, they’re in even worse shape than I would have ever imagined.

6. The effort to cut costs through outsourcing has reached new heights with the Orange County Register’s decision to test outsourcing its copyediting functions to India. That’s a pretty desperate signal from what was once California’s 3rd largest daily newspaper.

7. Dailies are increasingly looking to each other to form alliances and partnerships to share expenses, create more favorable economies, and strengthen diminishing value propositions. Circling the wagons didn’t help Custer at Little Bighorn, and it won’t work here either.