I have largely stopped writing about the layoffs, revenue declines and general troubles of the print newspaper industry. It’s just too depressing for me to focus on. But just imagine being a journalist inside one of these organizations.
In the coming weeks, the number of jobs across Editorial will be reduced by 70 positions, or 11%. As part of this move, we will be putting into place the final pieces of the newsroom reorganization that we began last year.
I grew up in LA and remember when the LA Times was a great paper (its parent Tribune Co is in Chapter 11). It hasn’t been one for some time.
The trouble with cost-cutting like this is that it accelerates the downward spiral that it may be designed to avoid:
- Diminished coverage/features/depth means it’s less engaging and there’s less reason to subscribe or read the print edition
- Declining readership means less revenue
- That requires more cost cutting
There are those who argue we’re going through a “correction” and that newspapers will ultimately find some sort of cost-revenues equilibrium. I don’t think I agree. Some number of publications will simply disappear — period. The industry overall will be weaker and other media will try and take the place of failed print publications.
While it’s easy to be a critic on the sidelines, I’m not sure if I were running a paper that I would have any magic solutions. The cost cutting is probably mandated by free-falling revenues and economic necessity at this point.
The one bright spot of course is online, where traffic continues to grow:
The economics of online, however, don’t allow for replacement of lost print revenues — as has been pointed out for a number of years. The newspapers of course are the first beneficiaries of APT, Yahoo!’s display ad platform (and corresponding distribution). Hopefully that will help them significantly in their effort to grow online revenues.
The newspapers can no longer afford to rep their own properties alone and must gain as much distribution as they can for their advertisers. They also need to move more into the SMB segment, which they haven’t been very successful penetrating.
Take a look at this clip from 1981 on newspapers’ early use of what would become the Internet (originally via NYTimes and TechCrunch):