Posted April 16, 2009 1:48 pm by with 2 comments

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While Gannett and the newspaper industry had a chance to celebrate last week for the first time in a long time it newspaper-pile1appears that the party has been raided and closed down today.

While the news of investment last week by Ariel Investments was welcomed even that was short lived as noted in the WSJ on Monday. You see there are some serious games being played with Gannett and all are happening with full knowledge of the fact the newspaper advertising industry is spiraling downward as quickly as ever.

Today at All Things Digital the real news on Gannett was given as they delivered their Q1 numbers. First, the ‘good’ news. The company’s earnings per share beat the street by a penny. Ok, not so bad. In addition, the company did generate $1.38 billion in revenue which is a very big number although it fell short of the $1.44 billion estimate.

Now the bad news. Quite honestly, based on the news you are about to read I would like to know where those revenue numbers are even coming from because it looks like this.

  • Publishing advertising revenue: Down 34.1 percent (or down 29.8 percent if you exclude currency fluctuation)
  • Classified ad revenue: Down 46.5 percent
  • USA Today ad revenue: Down 33.5 percent
  • TV revenue: Down 14.9 percent

Sadly, you can almost hear the newspaper industry and other traditional media for that matter hitting the canvas. Is it a knockout blow? Only time will tell. These kind of numbers will at least require a standing eight count for Gannett and it may only be a short time before the fight is called.

To be honest, I hate writing about this kind of stuff but it is important to know. I like newspapers and I like reading them. Reality, however, is consistently pointing in the direction of the complete overhaul and possible death of this once great industry unless there are massive changes. What those changes are remain to be seen but it is painfully obvious that even when things do turnaround newspapers may still be on the outside looking in.

Too bad really but it’s hard to deny what we have witnessed over the past few months and there are few, if any, indications of relief on the horizon.