Newspapers: Still Threatened

If the newspaper industry had theme music in 2013, it might use “Been down so long it looks like up to me,” the much-recycled line from a 1920s blues song. For the first time since the deep recession that began in 2007, newspaper organizations have grounds for a modicum of optimism:

Even halting improvement in the general economy helps the industry. The double whammy of cyclical ad losses on top of secular shift to new media has considerably eased from the worst of the recession from 2007 to 2010. Auto advertising has come back, and some markets, like Miami, are beginning to see recovery in real estate and employment ads as well.

All those positives, however, are for the time being mostly promise rather than performance. The most basic indicators have not turned around. The industry is little more than half the size it once was. Considerable dangers persist:

ScreenHunter_656 Jul. 05 08.01.jpgSo the industry entered 2013 with some positive signs but still dealing with difficult economic realities. The two biggest newspaper developments of the last year – digital paywalls and reduced print frequency – capture that odd mix of expansion and contraction now typical within the industry.

By Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute and Emily Guskin, Amy Mitchell and Mark Jurkowitz of the Pew Research Center

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