Accuracy in Media

The final numbers aren’t in for 2010 but based on preliminary figures it looks like the newspaper industry continued their slide but at a slower pace than the previous year.

From The Wrap

The newspaper industry, devastated during the recession, had another bad year in 2010.

Overall, circulation for newspapers in the U.S. declined 5 percent during the six months ended Sept. 30, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ Fas-Fax, the industry’s semi-annual scorecard.

I think 2010 showed the continued decline of an industry,” Ken Doctor, industry analyst and author of “Newsonomics,” told TheWrap. “Unless it makes significant changes, we’re in a death spiral.”

But 2010 wasn’t entirely bloody for newspaper publishers, either.

For one thing, electronic editions — long held up by publishers as their digital saviors – continued to become part of the circulation business. E-edition circulation was up 47 percent during six months ended in September. Last fall, 282 newspapers reported e-editions in their weekday average (totaling 1,577,732 electronic copies), according to PaidContent. In 2010, 445 newspapers reported e-editions in their weekday totals — for 2,314,815 copies, or an increase of about 47 percent. The Journal has by far the biggest electronic circulation, with nearly 450,000 getting an electronic version of the paper. The Detroit Free Press is a distant second (about 100,000), with the New York Times (71,697) third in terms of e-circ.

Just one American newspaper — the Wall Street Journal — managed to increase its circulation during that period — up 1.82 percent. Some papers, like the San Francisco Chronicle (11.2 percent), saw its paid circulation take a double-digit tumble.

Through September, advertising revenue for newspapers fell 8.7 percent (to $16.3 billion) according to the Newspaper Association of America. And this, on top of the stratospheric print advertising collapse of 2009, when revenue fell nearly 30 percent to $24.8 billion — down from $34.7 billion in 2009 and the lowest overall total since 1984.

While job cuts moderated — with the Miami Herald and USA Today among those announcing the biggest cuts in 2010 — there were very few newspapers adding staff, doing little to replace the 14,000 jobs lost over the last four years.

There were also more figurative signs of the industry’s continued demise. Just last week, the Standard and Poor’s S&P 500 index said it would drop the New York Times Company in favor of Netflix.

The Huffington Post’s website and its 26 million unique users (November, per Comscore) is on pace to overtake the New York Times (34 million in November) — and depending on which traffic data you believe (Quantcast says HuffPo has a bigger monthly audience) may already be there. And Twitter — with a new $200 million round of funding at a $3.7 billion valuation — is worth nearly double the Times’ publicly traded “enterprise value” of $2.03 billion.

Online circulation increases are great to brag about but since most newspapers don’t charge for online content the additional visitors only add to the costs of providing news content without a comparable increase in ad revenue which only increases the financial pressure on the much beleaguered companies.

While slowing the bleeding can be considered good news after a couple of very brutal years the fact remains that the industry is still in decline and sliding further if not faster towards extinction.





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