There’s good news, and there’s bad news. Which do you want first. Take your medicine up front? Ok here is the bad news. The circulation of the top 25 newspapers is down again according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation. The good news, please – it’s not down as much as last year. Our long nightmare is over…not quite yet.
Two papers, The Wall Street Journal and The Dallas Morning News were both up slightly. The totals for the top 25 papers are here. My paper of choice in Southern California, The Los Angeles Times was down 8% and it’s Tribune sister The Chicago Tribune was down 4%.
What does this mean for the newspaper industry – continued tough times. There does not appear to be any upward tides that will carry them back to their glory days. Aging demographics of their subscribers, the loss of classified revenues, and the growth of digital advertising are working their charms against them.
The key factor running against newspapers is the fact that they are no longer the monopoly for news and advertising in their markets. They are still incredibly useful to their audiences, but the high margins of the past will never return. They are adding services including some very robust digital advertising programs, but not at the same margins.
In my conversations with my old associates at newspapers I find they are soldiering on as best they can, and introducing a number of innovative ways to increase their revenues. There are many great successes, but just not enough to make the hole smaller in their revenue buckets. Like many businesses in this new digital age newspapers are finding the going tough, but there are still many tough people working there. I’m betting that they will find some answers. If they were racehorses I might take out a bet on a race for sport, but I would not buy the horse. Time to find a new track to run on. Let’s see what that Dallas Morning News nag did to run ahead of the rest of pack. We know the WSJ was juiced by Rupert, so no looking there.