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Monday, March 26, 2007

"Wrenching change and chaos"

Yikes — today's NY Times has a sobering article about the state of the newspaper biz. The NYT reports that February ad newspaper ad revenue is way down:

At USA Today, the nation’s biggest newspaper, ad revenue was down 14 percent this February, compared with February last year. Gannett, which owns USA Today and is the nation’s biggest newspaper company, reported that its overall ad revenue declined 3.8 percent in February from February 2006.

I'm not sure if these figures include weeklies or small community papers — the writer mentions some papers in "smaller markets" but even those are way, way bigger than any market here in Vermont. So I'm not sure how true this is for Vermont, but I'm sure we're all headed in this direction.

Media analyst Barry Parr ends the story with this choice quote:

“There is absolutely no question that the next 10 years are going to be really bad for the newspaper business,” he said. “This is a time of wrenching change and chaos. All of our assumptions about newspapers are going to be changed. The format, the business model, the organization of newspapers have outlived their usefulness.”

I agree with "wrenching change and chaos," but I don't think this is a bad time to be in the newspaper business. I love a challenge.

March 26, 2007 at 12:37 PM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink


Reminds me of a filmmaker talk at this year's Green Mountain Film Fest. One guy was bemoaning the rise of the internet/encroachment of rights/declining income potential (and oddly blaming services he admitted to never using). Another filmmaker responded by saying, basically, that making film has never been all that easy. And new technology just makes it more difficult for those who want to do it professionally. When everyone is a filmmaker why should "professional" filmmakers exist? Anyway it was just a good nugget to chew on.

Don't forget to stir in the NYT's publisher comments at Davos this year. ;)

Posted by: g-lo | Mar 26, 2007 2:23:26 PM

When everyone is a filmmaker why should "professional" filmmakers exist?

Please. I know you're quoting someone and this isn't necessarily your opinion, G, but just replace the word "filmmaker" with "writer" and you can see how ridiculous that statement is. The democratization of the medium is the greatest thing that's ever happened to filmmaking. Fodder for tomorrow night's drink-n-think.

Posted by: Bill Simmon | Mar 26, 2007 4:29:34 PM

I'll still be reading 7 Days 10 years from now, unless you do something irresponsible, like go out of business. Our local paper, the Caledonian Record, is a flat-out piece of s*** so I haven't paid attention to it for years now.

Seven Days has well-written articles about important local stuff -- that's always going to be needed, that's always going to be worth reading. Serve the community and we'll always thank you for it. The Caledonian serves their advertisers, and they're only still around because the owner is vaguely rich and too proud to close up shop.

It would be great to see the NTY, USA Today, and most other major papers collapse, though, it'd free up their employees to do some actual journalism.

Posted by: Thirtyseven | Mar 27, 2007 5:54:49 AM

Part of the reason that Gannett is floundering is that their product sucks.

If they improved the content the readers would come back.

Posted by: Gannett is their own problem | Mar 27, 2007 8:49:09 AM

Thanks for the props, 37.
I'm not really concerned about the need for our journalism going away. I'm more concerned about the money-making products and services that supply the cash that supports our journalism.

All the stuff we write is supported by the ads we sell. If we can't sell the ads, we can't continue to write.

I'm sure you can see how the ad revenue drop would cause concern.

Though I'm not actually sure we've seen an ad revenue drop. I haven't seen those numbers, and I'm not sure I'd share them if I had.

Anyhow, this is why everybody in the news biz is on a mad scramble to figure out how to make money online. It's not just about how do we do journalism online. It's about how do we make money to support journalism using online tools.

Posted by: cresmer | Mar 27, 2007 9:23:29 AM

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