We sent across these pages recently a column about the parlous state of newspapers--which, of course has resulted in a similar downward spiral for newsprint makers. But the bad news keeps coming and we want to keep all our clients and readers advised of some more recent and important developments among major newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic.
We began by quoting Sidney Ember, writing in the New York Times, "...with print advertising continuing to drop precipitously, you would be hard-pressed to find a newsroom devoid of uncertainty anywhere in the country (the USA)." That statement has to include the NYT itself, a leader and top performer among American newspapers. It recently went through buyouts and its management has said that its newsroom staff will be even smaller in 2017.
The venerable Wall Street Journal is one of America's most widely distributed newspapers. Its editor in chief, Gerard Baker, sent a memo to employees that said, in part, "...every story should be as short as it needs to be." Owners of the WSJ also announced that "cost management initiatives" would be launched. And then employees were told that the WSJ was looking for a substantial number of employees to take buyouts. Baker has said also that changes to it would "involve some consolidation of sections of the paper and the teams that produce it."
Gannet, publisher of USA Today, another national leader in wide distribution, and other newspapers has announced layoffs, apparently across the board.
But the bad news is not limited to the USA. The Guardian, a leading newspaper in the UK, is reported to be headed for rocks and shoals if its costs are not brought under control. Management has issued assurances that costs are in fact being brought under control and their target is "to break even by 2019." Some analysts are not encouraged about the newspaper's future.
Also in the UK, The Independent has undergone radical restructuring, shut down its printing presses, laid off many staff members and reconfigured itself into a digital Internet publication.
Hard times are sometimes simply changing times. This is especially true in the newsprint-newspapers arena. It is not difficult to foresee the gloomy future for both. The world is going digital, online, to the Internet. Will the paper industry follow the world into the future? Or will it lead it into the future?
Chuck Swann is Senior Editor of Paperitalo Publications.