Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Gannett’s Disappearing Ad Revenue Signals More Bad News for Newspapers

newspaperlessYesterday we got a sense of how bad the first quarter was for the magazine business. Today we get a report card from the newspaper industry, and it’s equally grim.

If you’re one of the few people gambling on Gannett (GCI) stock, you’ll want to note that the company’s earnings per share, after factoring out one-time gains, came in at 25 cents. That’s a penny better than the street’s estimate. And the company recorded $1.38 billion in revenue, missing the $1.44 billion consensus.

The rest of you care about Gannett because you want to get a sense of how bad the advertising market was for newspapers and local TV during the first three months of 2009. Short version: Very bad.

Relevant numbers:

Publishing advertising revenue: Down 34.1 percent (or down 29.8 percent if you exclude currency fluctuation)

Classified ad revenue: Down 46.5 percent

USA Today ad revenue: Down 33.5 percent (which is where Gannett had warned it would be

TV revenue: Down 14.9 percent

Later this afternoon, we’ll get a look at a different media industry bellwether when Google (GOOG) provides its report card. It’s not going to look nearly as bad, obviously, but by the very high standards of the search giant, it’s still going to be upsetting. More on that in a bit.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work