The American Press Institute is gathering its newspaper nabobs to discuss ways to save their business. If you’re like this media reporter, you’d be interested in hearing what folks have to say when the conference happens. But you can’t; it’s closed to press.
The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News are two papers that have suffered persistent misery in recent years as former owner Knight Ridder couldn’t stop their ad revenue and circulation declines. Things haven’t gotten much better… until the Phillies won Major League Baseball’s World Series Wednesday night — the first time that has happened in 28 years.
It looks like The Guardian was the first to report that the Financial Times would cut up to 60 jobs in its editorial library and managing editor’s office, as well as its advertising sales, finance, IT, conferences and marketing departments. The Guardian might have overplayed things a bit, as we hear no one has decided on final numbers and that plenty of cuts could come through leaving some jobs unfilled and various other humane means.
McClatchy’s third-quarter financial results could have been written last quarter, or two quarters ago… or last year. Short story: Ad revenue plunged some more, the company is doing everything it can to pay debt, online revenue is rising but not by enough, [insert here boilerplate paragraph on newspaper grappling with financial crisis/cyclical trends/slow decline of industry] and so on.
Ailing ad sales? Restive workers? Colossal costs? If your media company is experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, try outsourcing. While the long-term side effects are not yet known, outsourcing is proving to be an increasingly popular remedy for media companies looking to buff up their balance sheets.
Former Merrill Lynch newspaper publisher analyst Lauren Rich Fine said something cautiously optimistic about newspapers at the Dow Jones Media and Money conference on Wednesday: “Most of these companies can still be decent businesses. They just have to rethink their expectations. … Eventually, people will demand quality information, and they will pay for it.”
It was just yesterday that I posted a blog entry on MediaFile that talked about how Gannett watchdog Jim Hopkins is soliciting advertising and reader contributions to keep himself afloat after his Gannett severance agreement peters out. Here’s one for the papers, contained in a letter I got from journalism trade publication Editor & Publisher on Tuesday:
When it comes to newspapers, there’s nothing like the thrill of defeat. Scott Sperling, co-president of private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, sounded anything but disappointed on stage Tuesday at the Dow Jones Media and Money conference when he told Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Lattman about dropping out of the bid for the Knight Ridder newspaper chain in 2006.
Former Gannett investigative journalist Jim Hopkins has made a new career out of bird-dogging his own company at Gannett Blog (no affiliation to the company), attracting tons of information about buyouts and layoffs, not to mention the usual office gossip that permeates any big company. No one quite follows Gannett like Hopkins, even when he spent the summer in Ibiza. (Talk about priorities!)