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Management Side
The Final Word by Chuck Swann
Print
There seems to be nothing in the news but the blues for newspapers. Circulation and revenue continue to spiral downward. In late 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported a deep global decline in print advertising. The Journal's report focused on the largest US and UK organizations and cited an estimate from the Group M ad-buying firm that global print advertising would be off 8.7% for all of 2016. This includes papers in developing countries where print remains relatively healthy.

According to a report by analyst Rick Edmonds, Poynter news service, there seems to be no single explanation for accelerating print losses hitting both regional papers and the somewhat different bases of the Journal and the New York Times. Among the causes; a share of print budgets has shifted to various digital marketing formats. Retail store and financial institutions are facing digital disruptions in their sectors and squeezing ad budgets. Preprinted inserts, steady for many years, have started to erode. Pharmaceutical advertising, still heavy on TV and in magazines, seems to have disappeared from newspapers. The political ad wave largely bypassed newspapers.

Poynter also reported warnings that the first quarter of 2017 would be just as bad financially as the final two of 2016. All figures for 1stQ/2017 are not yet available, but apparently print advertising revenues were down 17.7% compared to 1stQ/2016; circulation revenues were down 8.0%; and a 3.7% growth in digital revenues notwithstanding, total revenues were down 10.7%.

It is on the basis of such discouraging results that shrinking North American newsprint production capacity can be seen justifiably as the order of the day.

Chuck Swann is Senior Editor of Paperitalo Publications.
 

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