Lee Newspapers See Decline in 2Q

Judging by the latest round of quarterly results from major publishers, the newspaper business is still hurting, despite moderating declines. This includes Lee Enterprises, publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, among other newspapers, which revealed that total revenues declined 3.6% from $203.7 million in the second quarter of 2009 to $196.4 million in the second quarter of 2010.

The overall decline resulted mainly from a drop in advertising revenue, which slipped 4.9% from $148 million to $140.8 million. This drop was due to continuing weakness in print advertising, which more than offset a 24.8% increase in digital ad revenue from $10.3 million to $12.9 million.

Total retail revenues (including both print and digital) slipped 4.4%, while national dropped 10.5% and classified revenues fell 4.7%.

Within the classified category, Lee said employment revenues ticked up 3.5%, while automotive fell 7.3% and real estate tumbled 18.5%, indicating continuing softness in two key sectors of the economy and traditional mainstays of newspaper ad revenue.

The news from Lee comes not long after Gannett announced a 1.6% decline in total revenues, which fell from $1.39 billion in the second quarter of 2009 to $1.37 billion in the second quarter of 2010.

This was partly the result of a 6% decline in publishing revenues, which fell from $1.1 billion to $1 billion. Despite this decline, Gannett reported that net income rose 35.7% from $107.9 million to $146.5 million over the same period, thanks mostly to strict cost-control measures.

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