Media

Sadly for Those of Us Who Care About Quality Journalism, Newspapers May Survive

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Daniel Gross in Slate on the whole newspapers-are-dying-and-then-where-am-I-gonna-get-my-fix-of-shitty-sports-columnists-and-Pluggers-comics-where-where?-where!-tell-me-where! meme:

In the past six months, according to ABC, the New York Times' daily circulation fell 7.3 percent, while Sunday circulation was down 2.7 percent. Horreur! And yet, the New York Times Co. reported that in the third quarter, "circulation revenues rose 6.7 percent, mainly because of higher subscription and newsstand prices at The New York Times and The Boston Globe." In the quarter, circulation revenues were larger than advertising revenues for the first time—$175.25 million, compared with $164.5 million. By the way, you can still make money publishing newspapers—even in a period when advertising has plummeted. Check out Gannett's third-quarter earnings report. Its newspapers pulled in more than $100 million of operating income on revenues of $1.04 billion. In the first three quarters of 2009, advertising revenues were off 31.6 percent, but circulation revenues were off less than 5 percent, even though many of Gannett's flagship papers lost subscribers.

This is the new emerging model—cutting costs, raising prices. It may still fail in the end. But we shouldn't act as if the online-only crowd has it all figured out.

More here. Via the irrepressible Alan Vanneman. If Obama is indeed the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar, then Vanneman is most powerful hat tipper since Caesar Romero.

Matt Welch on the tragedy of double-digit ROI in the newspaper industry.

Reason.tv on why newspapers should never get a dime in government subsidies:

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  1. If fewer people are subscribing to your product, raising the price usually does not help.

    Improve the quality or lower the “sticker price” and you should get more takers.

    That out of the way, I think their objective is to make money and they don’t really care how many people are buying their papers as long as they continue to increase revenue, which seems to be the case in the numbers cited above.

  2. I wouldn’t advocate any type of government help for print media, but I am glad that it is surviving. Now that the government might turn off the internet in the event of an “emergency” a print media industry is still important.

  3. “If Obama is indeed the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar, then Vanneman is most powerful hat tipper since Caesar Romero.”

    On top of which, neither of us has ever been implicated in the beheading of Cicero.

  4. the irrepressible Alan Vanneman

    I think you’re just not trying hard enough…

  5. Joe, raising your price to reflect the actual cost of the product is pretty necessary.

    It’s not the 50 cents a day or dollar that keeps me from buying a paper; it’s that there’s just no bloody point. If they gave them away for free, I wouldn’t only pick one up if they put them in my path and I was bored.

    It’s obsolete. If you like your music on discs and your news on paper, you pay a premium. Makes sense to me.

    1. Who are you calling Joe?

      Did you miss this part? Improve the quality

  6. Newspapers should just hire Alan Vanneman. He seems to have no problem working for free.

  7. An interesting graph highlighting the decline of newspaper circulation can be found here:

    http://www.theawl.com/2009/10/…..wo-decades

    1. Interesting that as the Daily News has more consciously mimicked the trashy Post over the years, it’s circulation has sunk like a stone. I remember about a decade ago when the Daily News was actually a decent alternative to the NYT and the Post.

  8. Where am I going to find four-week front page series articles on homelessness and two-paragraph 7th page clips about eminent domain seizures, where?

  9. Hey, if they can get the suckers who still subscribe to their cage liners to pay extra, so be it. I hope the price goes up to fifty bucks an issue for those worthless rags while the number of pages gets cut in half. The traitors and leftards who still read and support commie newspapers should be made to feel the full impact of their support on their wallets.

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