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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

August 29, 2008 / Toby Dayton

Field Getting More Crowded In Daily Newspaper Death Match

For the past few months, I’ve assumed that the Major Metro Daily Death Match was primarily a contest between Chicago and Minneapolis to see which major U.S. metro market would lose its daily newspaper first. Of course, every daily newspaper is struggling to one degree or another (most quite severely) and dozens of papers are in desperate shape with heavy debt loads that are dragging them towards bankruptcy. But I didn’t think any were as close to complete insolvency as the Tribune and the Star Tribune. It turns out, however, that there is a 3rd horse in the race in the form of the Portland Press Herald.

The Portalnd Press Herald has followed the textbook path along the daily death spiral. Circulation has declined 13% over the past decade, and advertising revenue has dropped 19% from last year. To bring costs in closer alignment with a massively shrunken revenue base, the paper has initiated 4 rounds of layoffs this year and closed all of its out-state bureaus, including Augusta, the state capitol. In court documents filed last month related to an ongoing battle between the paper’s owners (Seattle Times Company) and its editorial union, the paper stated that it is bleeding cash so fast that it will have to shut down if it isn’t sold in the very near future.

Looks like it’s going to be anyone’s race, and more horses are sure to join the pack of front-runners. An exciting photo finish is almost a certainty. Mint juleps anyone?