As internet marketers we have a great opportunity to gloat over the new depths that the newspaper industry has fallen to. Advertising revenue is continuing a steady decline, there are massive layoffs at many of the major newspapers and now many are on the selling block. Only thing is there is a bit of a problem….no one is buying.
According to an article in the New York Times it appears that newspapers are about as desirable a buy as Expeditions and Tahoes. While people aren’t buying huge vehicles anymore because of their fossil fuel consumption there also appears to be no one shelling out for the marketing’s equivalent to fossils: newspapers.
For me this really stinks. Since I skew a little older (I am north of 40 but that’s all I am saying) I have a soft spot for newspapers. I love them still. I love the experience of a newspaper. The crisp folded neatness of the daily paper is kind of like a fresh blanket of snow that has no footprints yet. It’s so nice that you don’t want to ruin but you can’t wait to just dive in and make a mess of it. I remember the introduction of USA Today in 1982. Now I realize that it’s written at a seventh or eighth level but I still love it (great sports section by the way). Funny thing is that for all of newspaper reading I have done over the years I have paid little or no attention to the ads. I read a newspaper for information not to be sold something. I have purchased something only once from a newspaper ad. I know there is branding at play here with print advertising but I think that the place where I experience ad blindness the most is the newspaper.
Well, as the internet becomes more and more dominant and as the traditional newspaper readers start to age out there is some real desperation on the part of owners of newspapers. The tide has shifted so much that it appears that many newspapers are trying to throw in the towel but no one is there to call off the fight. The Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger which is owned by Advance Publications (the Newhouse family of newspaper magnates) is asking for about one third of its work force to leave. You see, they can’t fire them because of a pledge of life time employment to its staffers for not unionizing.
Imagine this. The Chicago Sun-Times is for sale and all they hear are crickets. Share prices are plummeting and the last ditch attempts to make a save through online “reinventions” are losing traction outside of the monsters like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and a select few.
Here’s a few numbers that will chill even the most hardened marketer. In the Times article it states:
“The market capitalization of the Journal Register Company, publisher of the New Haven Register and hundreds of smaller papers, fell below $1 million last week, down more than 99 percent since the start of 2007. In the same period, GateHouse Media, another publisher of hundreds of small papers, has dropped almost 98 percent, to a market value under $26 million. The Sun-Times Media Group is down 91 percent, to less than $34 million.”
It appears that the internet may have slain one of the old world media dragons for real. With numbers like these occurring and share drops from the start of the year of 24 percent at the Washington Post Company, 26 percent for the New York Times Company and 52 percent at Gannett (poor USA Today) the vultures are circling. Maybe there will be some serious old media bargains in the future that some new media billionaire will try to resurrect the industry. Imagine the “New, New York Times” where “U Get the L8est Newz”. Oh brother. Give me the comics, I need a laugh.