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Thread: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

  1. #61
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    10 newspapers that may fold or go only digital next year:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/2009030...08599188378500

    The 10 Major Newspapers That Will Either Fold or Go Digital Next
    By 24/7 WALL ST. 24/7 Wall St.
    53 mins ago

    Over the last few weeks, the newspaper industry has entered a new period of decline. The parent of the papers in Philadelphia declared bankruptcy as did the Journal Register chain. The Rocky Mountain News closed and the Seattle Post Intelligencer, owned by Hearst, will almost certainly close or only publish online. Hearst has said it will also close The San Francisco Chronicle if it cannot make massive cuts at the paper. The most recent rumor is that the company will fire half of the editorial staff. That action still may not be enough to make the property profitable.


    24/7 Wall St. has created its list of the ten major daily papers that are most likely to fold or shut their print operations and only publish online. The properties were chosen based on the financial strength of their parent companies, the amount of direct competition that they face in their markets, and industry information on how much money they are losing. Based on this analysis, it is possible that eight of the fifty largest daily newspapers in the United States could cease publication in the next eighteen months. (Read: "The Race for a Better Read")


    1. The Philadelphia Daily News. The smaller of the two papers owned by The Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, which recently filed for bankruptcy. The parent company says it will make money this year, but with newspaper advertising still falling sharply, the city cannot support two papers and the Daily News has a daily circulation of only about 100,000. The tabloid has a small staff, most of whom could probably stay on at Philly.com, the web operation for both of the city dailies.


    2. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has filed for Chapter 11. The paper may not make money this year even without the costs of debt coverage. The company said it made $26 million last year, about half of what it made in 2007. The odds are that the Star Tribune will lose money this year if its ad revenue drops another 20%. There is no point for creditors to keep the paper open if it cannot generate cash. It could become an all-digital property, but supporting a daily circulation of over 300,000 is too much of a burden. It could survive if its rival the St. Paul Pioneer Press folds. A grim race.


    3. The Miami Herald, which has a daily circulation of about 220,000. It is owned by McClatchy, a publicly traded company which could be the next chain to go into Chapter 11. The Herald has been on the market since December, and but no serious bidders have emerged. Newspaper advertising has been especially hard hit in Florida because of the tremendous loss in real estate advertising. The online version of the paper is already well-read in the Miami area and Latin America and the Caribbean. The Herald has strong competition north of it in Fort Lauderdale. There is a very small chance it could merge with the Sun-Sentinel, but it is more likely that the Herald will go online-only with two editions, one for English-speaking readers and one for Spanish.


    4. The Detroit News is one of two daily papers in the big American city badly hit by the economic downturn. It is unlikely that it can merge with the larger Detroit Free Press which is owned by Gannett. It is hard to see what would be in it for Gannett. With the fortunes of Detroit getting worse each day, cutting back the number of days that the paper is delivered will not save enough money to keep the paper open.


    5. The Boston Globe is, based on several accounts, losing $1 million a week. One investment bank recently said that the paper is only worth $20 million. The paper is the flagship of what the Globe's parent, The New York Times, calls the New England Media Group. NYT has substantial financial problems of its own. Last year, ad revenue for the New England properties was down 18%. That is likely to continue or get worse this year. Supporting larger losses at the Globe will become nearly impossible. Boston.com, the online site that includes the digital aspects of the Globe, will probably be all that will be left of the operation.


    6. The San Francisco Chronicle. Parent company Hearst has already set a deadline for shutting the paper if it cannot make tremendous cost cuts. The Chronicle lost as much as $70 million last year. Even if the company could lower its costs, the northern California economy is in bad shape. The online version of the paper could be the only version by the middle of the 2009.


    7. The Chicago Sun Times is the smaller of two newspapers in the city. Its parent company, Sun-Times Media Group trades for $.03 a share. Davidson Kempner, a large shareholder in the firm, has dumped the CEO and most of the board. The paper has no chance of competing with The Chicago Tribune.


    8. NY Daily News is one of several large papers fighting for circulation and advertising in the New York City area. Unlike The New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, and Newark Star Ledger, the Daily News is not owned by a larger organization. Real estate billionaire Mort Zuckerman owns the paper. Based on figures from other big dailies it could easily lose $60 million or $70 million and has no chance of recovering from that level


    9. The Fort Worth Star Telegram is another one of the big dailies that competes with a larger paper in a neighboring market - Dallas. The parent of The Dallas Morning News, Belo, is arguably a stronger company that the Star Telegram's parent, McClatchy. The Morning News has a circulation of about 350,000 and the Star Telegram has just over 200,000. The Star Telegram will have to shut down or become an edition of its rival. Putting them together would save tens of millions of dollars a year.


    10. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is in one of the economically weakest markets in the country. Its parent, Advance Publications, has already threatened to close its paper in Newark. Employees gave up enough in terms of concessions to keep the paper open. Advance, owned by the Newhouse family, is carrying the burden of its paper plus Conde Nast, its magazine group which is losing advertising revenue. The Plain Dealer will be shut or go digital by the end of next year.


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  3. #62
    Member TeamCasey's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    It's sad. The death of newspapers is the death of local news ........ and news that can affect local politics/ decision making/ policing. Newspapers are the watchdogs of our cities.
    "I've never understood the term "women and children" as if their lives are somewhat more important than men."

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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Quote Originally Posted by TeamCasey View Post
    It's sad. The death of newspapers is the death of local news ........ and news that can affect local politics/ decision making/ policing. Newspapers are the watchdogs of our cities.
    That's a very wise post, TC. And I agree with it wholeheartedly.

    Thirty seconds on the evening news doesn't give the full picture. To know the situation you need to know both sides of the story.

    The internet is a terrific tool but, like TV news, it tends to gloss over the story.

    Rem

  5. #64
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    10 newspapers that may fold or go only digital next year:
    I heard a newspaper industry analyst discussing newspapers going digital in an interview a couple of weeks ago. While it would seem to be an obvious course of action if print circulation is dropping, the huge drawback is that the average newspaper's print edition generates 9x as much advertising revenue as its web site. If the dead-tree edition goes away, so does most of the revenue that keeps the ship afloat.
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  6. #65
    Member 15fan's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Quote Originally Posted by Unassisted View Post
    I heard a newspaper industry analyst discussing newspapers going digital in an interview a couple of weeks ago. While it would seem to be an obvious course of action if print circulation is dropping, the huge drawback is that the average newspaper's print edition generates 9x as much advertising revenue as its web site. If the dead-tree edition goes away, so does most of the revenue that keeps the ship afloat.
    True - but wouldn't a vast slice of the expenditure pie go by the wayside, too? No printing presses. No ink. No paper. No delivery trucks. No delivery boys/girls/people, no plastic bags for the days it might rain, etc etc etc. You could probably do a pretty significant downsizing of the buiding(s), too. Instead of primo office space, find some cheap warehouse for a server farm out in the sticks with a few offices and you're set.

    And you know what else the local papers could do? Scrap the photos. Seriously, who cares about the photo of the person walking his dog in the park on a sunny day, or the scout troop helping little old ladies across the street on a windy Thursday afternoon? Not me. My guess is that unless you know the person in the photo, the vast majority of the photos just get glossed over by the rest of you, too. Save the time & space and replace it with something of substance. Or if you feel like you need photos, let the general public send them in.

    (You can also ditch the mug shots of the columnists, too. As a general rule, most columnists aren't exactly, um, easy on the eyes. It's the (s)he has a face for radio reality. Save the ink/column space/bandwidth and instead fill it with content or scale back your operations.)

    Here's another thought for newspapers going forward - one digital route is the inside-the-box free and loaded up with banner ads route. But you could also offer subscriptions to non-ad sites. If I'm paying $150 a year for my daily printed paper, I'm probably willing to pay a variety of premius in an electronic format. Let me price my electronic subscription a la carte. I'd gladly pay a premium for a format that doesn't have ads or photos. Let me pay for those services. Others might not be willing to pay that premium, so let them navigate through all the banner & pop up ads.

    There are plenty of options out there. But they all require making some fundamental changes by an industry that seems to be somewhat long in the tooth and set in its ways.

    Adapt or perish.

  7. #66
    MarsArmyGirl RosieRed's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Quote Originally Posted by 15fan View Post
    Here's another thought for newspapers going forward - one digital route is the inside-the-box free and loaded up with banner ads route. But you could also offer subscriptions to non-ad sites. If I'm paying $150 a year for my daily printed paper, I'm probably willing to pay a variety of premius in an electronic format. Let me price my electronic subscription a la carte. I'd gladly pay a premium for a format that doesn't have ads or photos. Let me pay for those services. Others might not be willing to pay that premium, so let them navigate through all the banner & pop up ads.
    I know various sites around the Internet do this, and I've always wondered why more papers don't offer it. I think it has to come around eventually.

    As to papers ditching photos ... man, we sure would be without some great images for future generations if that happened. You may gloss over them, but when breaking news happens, a photo can often tell the story better than anything else. (If city hall burns down, do you want to read about it or see a picture of it?) For what it's worth, study after study has shown that photos are the first thing people look at in a paper, and captions are more often read than stories are.

    As an aside, it's not JUST the industry long in the tooth and set in its ways; there are readers out there too who don't want the product to change/die. The demographic most reading newspapers is of the older generation, and you can guess how they would feel about the print edition disappearing altogether. Also, there are still millions of people in this country who don't have Internet access ... or do, but it's too slow to make use of a lot of today's Web sites.

  8. #67
    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Quote Originally Posted by RosieRed View Post
    As an aside, it's not JUST the industry long in the tooth and set in its ways; there are readers out there too who don't want the product to change/die. The demographic most reading newspapers is of the older generation, and you can guess how they would feel about the print edition disappearing altogether. Also, there are still millions of people in this country who don't have Internet access ... or do, but it's too slow to make use of a lot of today's Web sites.
    It's part of a larger habit-shift in this country away from reading in general. I remember reading a statistic once that 58% of Americans never pick up and read another book in their lifetime after completing high school.

    More related to Newspapers -- the NEA did a study that found people age 15-24 spend approximately 7 minutes per day of "leisure time" reading (anything), compared to 2 hours on average watching television. Newspapers are fighting the same uphill battle that book publishers have been waging for years -- people just don't want to sit down and read something when they can flip a TV on and be told/shown.
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Don't get me started. There are so many angles to this, so many things to consider ...

  10. #69
    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Quote Originally Posted by BCubb2003 View Post
    Don't get me started. There are so many angles to this, so many things to consider ...

    Get started.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts. That list of papers in trouble is like a punch to the stomach.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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  11. #70
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    I've always maintained that one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is the love to read.

    I think the micropayment ideas have some merit. Make it very easy to charge a nominal fee (like 5-10-25 cents) for a day/week/month worth of no-ad content at a newspaper site. Like buying an iTunes MP3 or driving through an iPay toll booth. People are reluctant to plop down $150 in one fell swoop, but if you nickel and dime your way there, they don't mind it as much.

    I have noticed the Enquirer focusing very heavily on local news.

    I did read somewhere of an idea where newspapers would shut down their free sites for a week in July to give the country a taste of what it would be like without a daily newspaper. I haven't made up my mind if this is a good idea or not.

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  12. #71
    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker View Post
    I did read somewhere of an idea where newspapers would shut down their free sites for a week in July to give the country a taste of what it would be like without a daily newspaper. I haven't made up my mind if this is a good idea or not.
    That could potentially backfire for them, couldn't it? Seven days might be long enough for people to seek and find other sources, and discover that they like those other sources better!

  13. #72
    Member 15fan's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    That could potentially backfire for them, couldn't it? Seven days might be long enough for people to seek and find other sources, and discover that they like those other sources better!
    Yep.

    Pride cometh before the fall.

  14. #73
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    I remember reading a statistic once that 58% of Americans never pick up and read another book in their lifetime after completing high school.
    Yep.. saddest thing I've read all year.

  15. #74
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Well, you asked for it ...

    You can see that the whole newspaper industry is facing big challenges now. It looks a lot like Kodak and the photographic film industry: Several years of serious pain, then a whole industry seems to vanish, to be replaced by digital. Yet, there's still a Kodak, doing photographic stuff in a new form.

    But if you look closely, there are different kinds of newspapers with different situations.

    The biggest problem is in two-newspaper cities. The Cincinnati Post, for instance, plus Albuquerque, Denver, Seattle. They had some good people on their staffs, but the No. 2 paper in a two-newspaper town was living on borrowed time. It hadn't been a viable business for decades.

    The next problem is with large newspapers owned by companies that have huge debt, like Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles. Many of these newspapers are actually making enough to support themselves, just not enough to pay off the huge debt. Three or four years ago, you could see the print news industry was past its peak, but with careful management could last for quite a while as you made transition plans. But what were these companies thinking? They went billions into debt thinking that somehow something was going to happen in the print industry that would kick revenue into a higher gear unseen before. (The idea of being a billionaire, and still being in debt, has never made sense to me.)

    That leaves a lot of other newspapers to cope with the changes in society and the industry as best they can. And the changes are real. You can look at baseball to see how information has changed. Do you remember when the Game of the Week was the only game you'd get that week? Before USA Today's expanded box scores? Before ESPN, MLB.com, XM, MLB TV. (I always thought it was a major lost opportunity that the Internet and fantasy baseball exploded just as baseball went on strike.)

    Readership has changed, but not entirely, for everyone. The papers on Time magazine's list have a circulation of 4.5 million people. That's 4.5 million paying customers for supposedly the worst-off papers in the nation. (Some on the list really are bad off, some not so much.) When the Rocky Mountain News closed recently, it had 211,000 circulation, larger than the Cincinnati Enquirer.

    Then the recession hits, and advertising disappears at the worst possible time. Even Google is cutting back. The advertising is disappearing faster than the readership.

    Here's how I see it breaking down, so to speak. Two-newspaper towns go first, leaving one newspaper in a slightly healthier position than before. Big-debt companies break apart, leaving their newspapers to reset and support themselves. Most other newspapers struggle with changing readership and the recession but continue to print for those people who must have their news on paper. That's a lot of newspapers, still going. Meanwhile, the newsrooms move online as fast as possible.

    People's relationship to newsprint changes, but never completely goes away. Small-town dailies, neighborhood weeklies and shoppers all add to the mix, for as long as enough people want paper. Soon though, even the publishers decide that this whole ink-on-newsprint, delivered-by-trucks thing is more trouble than it's worth. Yet each paper that closes will have thousands of people who still wanted it. Small-scale operations will step up to serve those people, until those businesses decide too that newsprint just doesn't work any more.

    So what kind of journalism will be left? RedsZone has actually seen the likely model: C Trent. Instead of reading the Enquirer or the Dayton Daily News because that's the only place to get baseball news, we'll have to hope that the reporters we value like C Trent and John Erardi can put together their own networks to support themselves (or get a day job at the flux capacitor factory.)

  16. #75
    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: Newspapers - Pick one up before they go away

    Quote Originally Posted by BCubb2003 View Post

    The next problem is with large newspapers owned by companies that have huge debt, like Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles. Many of these newspapers are actually making enough to support themselves, just not enough to pay off the huge debt. Three or four years ago, you could see the print news industry was past its peak, but with careful management could last for quite a while as you made transition plans. But what were these companies thinking? They went billions into debt thinking that somehow something was going to happen in the print industry that would kick revenue into a higher gear unseen before. (The idea of being a billionaire, and still being in debt, has never made sense to me.)
    Great Post! I'll explain the "debt" part. As mature industries, newspapers became "cash cows", as in they required very little investment in fixed assets. etc...so all your profits went to cash (simplistic, I know, but you get the idea). More cash was even generated by selling assets that became superfluos.

    The best way to get a good return out of a 'cash cow" is to get 'cash now" (think J.G. Wentworth)...and therefore newspapers were the subject of leveraged buyouts, such as Sam Zell's LBO of the "Tribune Co".
    The assumption (proven wrong) was that the cow would produce long enough to service that debt (althought the Tribune numbers never made sense).

    For a billionaire like Zell, it made all the sense in the world to do this transaction the way it was done. The Tribune Co is now in Chapter 11 with creditors fighting over the crumbs that may be left. And Mr. Zell is still a billionaire.
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