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


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