How low can it go for traditional print news media? Pretty low, according to a few recent reports.
The first, from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), pegged 2007 as the worst downturn in the newspaper print ad business in over 50 years. Revenue for the industry was down just under 8% to $45.3b. That’s not a surprise, it’s been long forecast, still a 50 year low is a significant milestone.
The silver lining is the online news machine continues to improve. Per the NAA report, revenue for the segment grew 18.8 percent to $3.2b in 2007 and as a whole, the segment accounts for less than 8% of the total industry’s results. That’s up from 5.7% in 2006. There’s plenty of room for improvement.
The second report, Pew’s sweeping annual report on the “State of the News Media 2008” takes a look at overall trends and conditions in the industry. Similarly ominous, the section on Newspapers begins with the line “Newspapers are still far from dead, but the language of the obituary is creeping in.”
Among the findings and highlights:
•Circulation is falling at a rate of about 2.5% year for dailies and 3.3% for Sunday papers. Compared to 2001, the newspapers closed 2007 down 8.4% (daily) and 11.4% (Sunday).
•While newspapers (online and off) are reaching as large an audience as ever (2.1 times daily and 2.5 Sunday) , “the industry is no closer to charging for the growing cost of generating this content” and it’s unclear they’ll find a way to offset the expenses.
•“in many instances, the audiences for a print newspaper and its Web site are the same people. As the years go by and multimedia and breaking news Web content improve, the electronic option gets a bigger share of time and attention from this shared audience.”
•The rift between online and offline news styles also continues to grow. According to one of the Pew studies, only about a third of national (35%) and local journalists (36%) have a positive view of so called “citizen journalism” where citizens post news content. Similarly, only about a third think news aggregator sites like Digg or Reddit are good for the industry or consumers.
•62% of journalists at national outlets think journalism is going in the wrong direction, an increase from 51% in 2004 (link).
•“News consumers may have had more choices than ever for where to find news in 2007, but that does not mean they had more news to choose from. The news agenda for the year was, in fact, quite narrow, dominated by a few major general topic areas”
•Ziff Davis Media Files for Bankruptcy
•Reed to Sell Variety and other Trade Publications
•Hellman and Friedman to Privatize Getty Images for $2.1b
•Zell Takes Control of Tribune
•Industry Standard: the Sequel
•LA Times Links with Mixx for Web 2.0
•NY Times Kills Times Select
•News Corp and Dow Jones: Inside the Biggest of the Big Newspaper Deals