American City Business Journals CEO Whitney Shaw explains why his chain of business papers is avoiding the trauma that daily newspapers are suffering. "If daily newspapers have pneumonia or
worse this year, ACBJ has a cold. We're still fundamentally very healthy," he says.
Shaw outlines the key reasons: Staffing is lean, the company doesn't own printing presses and has no debt, and "we don't have expensive retiree pensions." And while advertising revenue is off from a year ago, it's nowhere near the decline that the publicly owned daily newspapers have continue to report, he says.
Paid circulation is also growing overall in 2009 at the business journals, as it has for several years. Shaw notes an interesting comparison uncovered by recent research. In the markets with a business journal and a dominant daily, the dailies saw circulation drop 13.2% from June 2008 to June 2009. Business journal circulation, on the other hand, dropped less than 1% in that period. "That spread of almost 14 points is the largest we've ever seen," he says.