Newspapers Now Red All Over
Not to repeat myself, but there’s an issue I’ve written about, which will appear in next month’s print edition (March “Bits and Pieces”) that is near and dear to my heart. And that is the subject of newspapers. Many magazine writers cut their teeth slinging newsprint hash, including yours truly, and the demise of newspapers seems to me, at least, to be a fait accompli. How I hope I am dead wrong.
I won’t repeat the argument from the column, but I would like to throw in some groundswell of opinion in the same vein. An article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently provided an excellent outline for perspective. As advertising completely drops off the table in the midst of our nation’s worst recession since the Great Depression, some newspapers are threatening to close their doors or are seeking buyers. Two dailies in Detroit cut their publishing slate to three days a week. New York Times Co., Gannett Co. and McClatchy Co. saw ad revenue declines of 13 percent.
The WSJ, quoting analyst Jon Swallen of TNS Media Intelligence in New York, estimated that roughly 60 percent of ad revenue comes from retail, automotive, financial services and real estate marketers. Clearly, these have been the biggest losing horses in the recession derby the past year-plus.
These aren’t just podunk townie rags going by the wayside. Major titles are filing for bankruptcy (Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., which publish the Inquirer and Daily News, joined those ranks this week). Hearst Corp. is threatening to sell or shut down the San Francisco Chronicle should it not get concessions from its union workers. Some chains, like Gannett, are making employees take unpaid vacations to avoid cuts. The Rocky Mountain News needs a buyer. Ditto for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Tuscon Citizen, both of which are in danger of closing.