Hope for struggling newspaper companies and discouraged journalists came from an unlikely quarter this week.
Lauren Rich Fine was the most powerful media-stock analyst on Wall Street for more than a decade. She built her career telling newspapers how to maximize profits to boost share price, then retired a year ago. Thursday she delivered an unusual message:
Make less money. Get off the stock exchange.
Discussion at the annual World Association of Newspapers focused this year on how to integrate print and online newsrooms, and how to turn web readers into advertising dollars. But not everything at the early June conference in Stockholm was about the Internet. One session looked at the aging demographics of newspaper readers and asked a provocative question: “Should newspapers forget about the young?” In some cases, the conference heard, the answer is yes. Philip M. Stone covered the conference for followthemedia.com. Read his full story about the youth debate at the link below.
Continue Reading Newspapers ponder giving up on young readers
The Toronto Star cut 122 jobs following a tough first quarter that saw parent corporation Torstar lose $3.5 million. About a third of the jobs will be lost from the newsroom. Employees were enticed to leave with a buyout package that saw long-term employees eligible for up to almost two years of their current salary. The news came at roughly the same time that the New York Times announced it also lost money in the first quarter of the year. The venerable newspaper company posted a $335,00 (US) loss.
Continue Reading Torstar, New York Times post losses
Three Canadian newspaper companies withdrew from the Audit Bureau of Circulation this spring, opting to have their circulation measured instead by a new organization, the Canadian Circulation Audit Board. Torstar, Transcontinental and Sun Media have switched to the CCAB, though the reasons for the move remain unclear. Media buyers speculated that the move would undermine advertisers’ confidence in newspapers, particularly in light of scandals in the United States over fudged circulation figures.
A formal response released on May 13 by the Canadian Media Directors Council criticizes the move.
Continue Reading Canadian papers dump Audit Bureau of Circulation
Even free newspapers are hurting. Metro International lost $8.75 million in the first quarter of the year, despite strong advertising revenues and readership in much of North America and Hong Kong. The good news is that the loss is less than the international chain of free newspapers suffered last year. In the first quarter of 2007, the company lost $13.8 million.
Continue Reading Metro losses
Members of the National Union of Journalists have decided to hold a strike vote to prepare for a fight over jobs at the newly merged Thomson Reuters. Managers of the new company say they have not figured out yet which jobs are redundant. The union says that voluntary buyouts and retraining should allow the company to restructure without forcing anyone out the door.
Continue Reading Thomson Reuters may face strike
Philip Stone, of followthemedia.com, offers a fascinating look at how the debt load of once-thriving newspapers is suddenly causing problems in a climate of declining revenues, readers and sales. The article is particularly good at helping readers understand the role that banks play in newspaper management – including editorial – and why newspaper managers get anxious even when their companies still post double-digit profit margins.
Author Eric Alterman takes a long and loving look at what makes newspapers great, why we need them, and why they may not survive the 21st century.
Continue Reading New Yorker weighs in on newspaper woes
Canada’s newspaper industry appears to be defying the worst trends of the industry south of the border. A study released by Statscan in April, 2008, reported that revenues at Canadian newspapers rose 2.6 per cent in 2006; that compares to a decline of 1.7 per cent in the U.S. at the same time.
Revenues were up in both advertising and circulation, though a change in accounting procedures complicates the comparison of circulation revenues. Profit margins were also healthy in 2006, according to the study, standing at 13.2 per cent across the industry in Canada and up to 21 per cent in Western Canada.
The study does not deal with industry performance in 2007 or 2008.
Continue Reading Growth and good news for Canadian newspapers
Free newspapers could be prevented from home delivery in San Francisco, under a municipal law recently introduced by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. The city politician is upset at receiving unwanted home copies of the San Francisco Examiner. He introduced a motion last month that would keep free newspapers off lawns, boxes and stoops in San Francisco unless readers have actively subscribed.
Critics of Mirkarimi’s move point out that the Examiner is one of the few newspapers in San Francisco with an aggressive team of investigative reporters who regularly break news at city hall. They also point out that Mirkarimi’s home delivery ban might violate the U.S. constitution.
Continue Reading Free newspapers banned from U.S. home delivery?