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Report: Cuts speed newspapers’ decline

Jeremy Hobson Oct 26, 2009

Report: Cuts speed newspapers’ decline

Jeremy Hobson Oct 26, 2009


Kai Ryssdal: Given the way the circulation numbers read today, nobody would accuse American newspapers of being too big to fail. The Audit Bureau of Circulation says average daily circulation fell 10 percent this spring and summer compared to last. That’s not such a surprise. But the pace of decline is accelerating. Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson reports from New York.

JEREMY HOBSON: Since newspaper sales started dropping in the early 90s, publishers have had to do more with less.

Rick Edmonds follows the industry for the Poynter Institute. He says things got especially bad in the last year. The financial crisis forced businesses to pull newspaper advertisements, even if they felt they were still getting a bang for their buck.

RICK EDMONDS: That really puts the heat on to make even further cuts, and my sense is that readers are quite sensitive to changes that seem to reduce quality.

And readers today are more important than ever to newspapers’ bottom lines.

Vince Casanova is the senior vice president for Publishing Operations at Tribune Publishing. That’s the company that owns the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times. He says subscriptions and newsstand sales now make up a bigger slice of the revenue pie.

VINCE CASANOVA: They’re a larger share of the total revenue stream than we had in the past for two reasons. One, we’ve raised prices; and two, overall advertising revenues are down.

Casanova says Tribune newspapers are focusing diminishing resources on what they think readers want: strong local coverage and good investigative reporting.

But still, who wants to pay twice as much for a paper half as thick?

Media Blogger Dan Kennedy says the Boston Globe is operating with about 60 percent of the news staff it had a decade ago. And yet, he says…

DAN KENNEDY: The Globe recently raised the price of seven-day home delivery to almost $50 a month. We can’t afford that.

Kennedy says he’s cut back to just Sundays. He reads the rest of the week’s editions online for next to nothing.

In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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