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US papers decline despite online growth—report

/ 05:57 PM March 06, 2012

WASHINGTON—US newspapers are losing $7 in print advertising for every dollar they gain online, but some firms have been more successful than others in shifting to a new business model, a study found.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which surveyed the financial data of 38 newspapers, provided further evidence for the decline of newspapers as consumers shift to online news sources.

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But it found some papers coming close to matching their print advertising losses with new online income streams, indicating that well-run companies were capable of defying market-wide trends.

“The study suggests that the future of newspapers, rather than being determined entirely by sweeping external trends, can be substantially affected by company culture and management – even at papers of quite different sizes,” said PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel said in a statement on Monday.

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The report, begun in late 2010, was also informed by interviews with senior executives from 13 companies that own a total of 330 dailies.

The papers providing detailed data took in around $11 in print revenue for every dollar they attracted online, meaning that the 19 percent rise in online revenue was more than offset by the nine percent decline in print advertising.

“We have all these (new) products we are working on that we believe are going to deliver results that are part of our sustainability,” the study quoted one executive as saying. “But we need to eat today.”

Another executive described a culture of “inertia” in which newspaper veterans were reluctant to embrace new ways of doing business.

The center said overall newspaper revenue is down by more than 40 percent in the last decade despite the decision by many newspapers to raise subscription rates.

There are roughly 1,350 US English language daily newspapers, down from 1,400 five years ago. The vast majority are small newspapers, with circulation of less than 25,000, the center said.

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TOPICS: Marketing, Media, newspapers, Online, US
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