Will Your Local Newspaper Make It Through 2009?

Apr 15th, 2009 | By | Category: Commentary

The New York Times today suggests that newspaper ad revenue is going to decline 30% in 2009 – worse than the most pessimistic of industry predictions:

One of the few publishers to make a public statement is the Gannett Company, owner of the largest and most profitable newspaper chain in the country. At a conference with analysts last month, Gracia Martore, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, indicated that so far, 2009 newspaper ad revenue was down roughly 30 percent, and more than that at its flagship paper, USA Today.

In filing for bankruptcy recently, Sun-Times Media Group, publisher of The Chicago Sun-Times and several smaller papers, disclosed in court papers that it had drawn up its original 2009 budget based on an expected 18 percent slide in ad revenue for the entire year, but had revised that to 30 percent.

“This is far worse than anything any of us has seen,” said an executive at a major newspaper company. “We can keep cutting, but we need this to start to bottom out.”

Undead Newspapers

A lot of newspapers are now zombies.

You can tell they are dead already, even though they’re still moving. You read them in the morning, and they are rehashing news that you heard about yesterday on Twitter or on a blog. You find yourself skipping stories, because you watched a video of the news on YouTube last night.

How long can this go on?

We’ve said previously that newspapers will have to start learning from bloggers, if they want to survive. Bloggers are 50 times more efficient than newspapers, when it comes to the Web. New media makes it possible for one man to have the reach of a multinational media conglomerate.

Do you think your paper has what it takes to make it through the year?

Image: Kurt Koller

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