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Sep 5, 2008

Newspaper Ad Revenues Gaining Downhill Speed (Even Online Is Declining)

Negative Momentum: Newspaper Ad Revenues Gaining Downhill Speed (Even Online Is Declining)

Can it get any worse for the newspaper industry? The steep decline in print advertising just keeps getting steeper and, for the first time, even online ad sales have gone down. Total print ads in the U.S. were down 16 percent in the second quarter to $8.8 billion. That makes nine consecutive quarters in which “print revenues have declined at an almost continuously accelerating rate,” notes Alan Mutter at Reflections of a Newsosaur. He put together the chart at left, which starkly illustrates the newspaper industry’s death dive.

The newspaper industry took in $1.7 billion less in print ads during the second quarter than the year before For the first half of the year, the industry is down $3.1 billion. At this rate, there won’t be an industry left by the end of next year. Of course, revenues have to stabilize at a lower level before that happens. Don’t they? Rght now, we’re at 1995 revenue levels.

Don’t look to online ad sales to save the industry. Online ads came to only $777 million in the second quarter, which was down 2.4 percent from the year before. That’s marks the first decline ever in digital revenues. The practice if bundling print and online ad sales isn’t helping in this case, either. Advertisers trained to buy bundled ads are more likely to drop the entire bundle when making budget cuts.

The New York Sun may shut down

The New York Sun, printed since 2002 as a "conservative-leaning alternative" to The New York Times (NYT), announces that it may stop being published by the end of this month if it doesn't receive adequate funding, reports the European Journalism Centre (EJC).

Newspaper Roundup: McClatchy; Tribune Company; Chicago Tribune

-- McClatchy: North Carolina papers The News & Observer of Raleigh, and The Charlotte Observerare asking hundreds of staffers to accept buyouts. The News & Observer hopes at least 320 workers, or 40 percent of its workforce, will accept the offer. The Observer is offering buyouts to most of its 810 full-timers, though it expects a low acceptance rate. It plans to cut about 75 positions by Oct. 3. Before these announcements, the papers' parent, The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) said it was freezing wages for at least one year. (AP)

-- Tribune: Citing a need to improve its search optimization and putting more "intriguing" content on its sites, Tribune Interactive has reorganized its staff, putting five execs in new posts, including Rob Barrett, who moves from SVP/GM of Tribune Interactive at LAT to EVP/programming for the unit, and Julie Anderson, formerly VP/interactive at the Orlando Sentinel and will serve as VP/content integration for TI. (Release)

-- Chicago Tribune: Newspapers are desperate to attract younger readers, but the Chicago daily is aiming really young with a new weekly print and website written by and for teens. Dubbed TheMash, the paper will go out to 100,000 teens and will be managed by Trib staffers. (E&P)

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