Judging the overall health of the newspaper industry became a bit harder in September, when the Newspaper Association of America announced that it would no longer be reporting quarterly
results in favor of annual results, in order “to produce a more comprehensive report to properly reflect the evolving nature of the newspaper industry and its revenues.”
However, many publicly traded newspaper companies still release quarterly results, and a survey of 10 such companies of varying sizes shows a continued downward trend in line with the
industry’s trajectory to date.
All 10 publishers surveyed -- A.H. Belo, E.W. Scripps, Gannett Co., Gatehouse Media, Journal Communications, Lee Enterprises, McClatchy Co., New
York Times Co., News Corp., and Tribune Co. -- saw total revenues decline at their newspaper publishing divisions, with an average percentage decline of 3.8%.
Among the nine companies
reporting specific results for different revenue categories, there was an average percentage decline of 7.6% in advertising revenues. Seven out of 10 companies reported specific results for classified
advertising, with an average drop of 9% in this category, while national advertising (six out of ten reporting) showed an average drop of 11.3%, and local advertising (six out of ten reporting) fell
Digital advertising (seven out of 10 reporting) grew 5.1% on average. Circulation revenues (reported by all 10 companies) increased 0.5% on average, reflecting the success of
some publishers’ online paywall strategies.
These figures should be treated with caution, as they are based on a sample that excludes privately owned companies -- e.g., Hearst
Corp., Digital First -- and skew toward larger, national chains