Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Blame It On Easter

The major media chains, and the minor ones, too, all seem to have one thing in common: business stinks.

Said the New York Times:

"Our large-market newspapers, The Times and The Globe, were flat or down in advertising revenues in the quarter, as categories such as telecommunications and banking were adversely affected by industry consolidation. Our largest properties were also affected by the timing of Easter..."

Said the Dow Jones Company's Peter Kann, a gloriously incapable executive who has, nonetheless, retained his position as chief architect of that franchise's erosion:

"We continue to battle a persistently difficult B2B (business-to-business) print advertising climate particularly in the technology category.... However, heading into the second quarter, we are cautiously optimistic that advertising trends will improve."

Said the Tribune, where advertising revenues were up a non-whopping 2%:

"Newspaper advertising revenue growth was solid in January and February, although March was negatively impacted by the timing of the Easter holiday. In television, our results reflected overall industry softness and the impact of Local People Meters in our major markets."

No apologies from Yahoo, however, where advertising revenue rose 54%. And the total dollars involved--a billion worth--are not trivial any more. Online is firmly where it's at.

And you would think the media chains would clearly understand that, because every one of them noted strong growth in their online sites--30% at the New York Times alone. But they somehow fail to make the inverse connection to the decline in their core business.

Instead, they blame it on Easter--which apparently came out of the blue and without warning on March 27th. And, of course, the dreaded and terribly disrupting Local People Meters.

It's always something.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up


curds&whey said...

As as former newspaper reporter, excellence in journalism and profits often don't go hand in hand. Newspapers should operate as non-profits.

Gannett, which owns USAToday, decimated the staff of most the small papers it acquired. Gannett is profitable, but it's newspapers are terrible. MacNews works for USAToday, but not in Jackson, Miss.

Newspapers have struggled with declining readership long before the Internet. And Yahoo was born on the Web and is really a different media animal.

BelowTheCrowd said...

At present time, the only actual newspaper I receive physically is the Financial Times. It still comes to me on paper only because of a sneaky "automatic renewal" that I got hit with this year despite wanting to drop it.

By the end of this calendar year I will no longer receive any newspaper in physical form, though I will continue to read as many -- if not more -- by way of websites and RSS feeds.

Sure, I will occasionally pick up a paper of one flavor or another so as to have something to peruse over lunch or on an airplane. And I'll probably still pick up the Thursday LA Times for the weekend insert, and occasionally the Sunday New York Times becuase it can be pleasant at times to just lounge around and read it.

But those are the exceptions and will continue to be.

However, I will also continue to use every technology available to me for blocking the more intrusive forms of online advertising as well. Online advertisers will need to be careful not to make their readers feel the same way that I often do when purchasing a weekend newspaper that consists of 90% advertising and only 10% content, much of which is useless...