Two articles in the New York Times yesterday illustrate the depth of the tail-spin newspapers are now in.
One article reports on recent Audit Bureau of Circulations figures of hundreds of US newspapers, which show that circulations dropped by 10.6% in the six months to September. As the Times’ Richard Perez-Pena observes, “the two-decade erosion in newspaper circulation is looking more like an avalanche.”
Over in the Times’ Media and Advertising section, an equally gloomy article by Stephanie Clifford reports that a recent recovery in online advertising appears to be by-passing the websites of newspapers.
Over all, the Internet is the only advertising medium expected to grow this year in the United States, rising 9.2 percent, to $54.1 billion, according to figures released this month by ZenithOptimedia, a media service firm.
Newspaper sites cannot seem to catch that wave. The New York Times Company reported a decline in ad revenue at its newspaper Web sites of 18.5 percent this quarter compared with the third quarter last year. Advertising revenue at Gannett’s newspaper sites also declined. The McClatchy Company was an exception, with online advertising revenue rising 3.1 percent from a year ago, though the rate of growth slowed. (Other major newspaper companies have not yet reported their revenues for the most recent quarter.)
That is a sobering trend for newspaper executives, who once hoped that online revenue would make up for plummeting print revenue.
Sobering? These two trends put together would be enough to drive any media executive to drink.
UPDATE: Megan McCardle also calls it a death spiral.