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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

October 1, 2008 / Toby Dayton

Daily Newspapers Entering Final Chapter

It’s almost impossible, and probably somewhat silly to try to segment the decline of the daily newspaper industry into discrete chapters or phases, but I’m going to do it anyway because it seems that over the past month or so, the industry has begun entering its final chapter. All year, the story has been building for the dramatic finale, and it seems that we are now entering that stage where certain players get killed off, others manage escape, and the dust settles after the bloodbath to reveal a dramatically altered landscape. (The epilogue or sequel of this book will be how the survivors manage to establish themselves in their new environment). The events that have led me to the conclusion that we are now in the final chapter include the following:

1) The New York Sun published its final edition and will be shutting down

2) The futile, ridiculously insufficient attempts to salvage the Trib through redesign fail as miserably as everyone knew they would

3) The Minneapolis Star Tribune begins withholding debt payments on its senior debt in an effort to conserve cash. Management of the paper admits that every option, including filing for bankruptcy, are on the table.

4) Teamsetsr representing drivers for the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer voted to approve a strike that may begin on October 21st. The Seattle Times is in miserable shape and a strike could be the final blow that knocks it out completely.

5) Creative Loafing, which publishes alternative weeklies in multiple markets, has declared bankruptcy under the weight of $40 million in outstanding debt. And although the publisher is not a daily paper, it is a distant cousin suffering from the same critical disease (over-leverage in a horrendous market).

There are undoubtedly others stories from around the country, but the point is that almost every patient, having exhausted the menu of cures, fixes, and elixirs over the past year or so, is on their deathbed, and the plugs are going to start getting yanked from the wall one by one over the next year or so.

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