Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Newspapers’ Bad News Get Less Bad–But Not by Much


Is the newspaper advertising slump about to end? Nope. But it’s continuing to get a little bit less awful.

The New York Times polled some of the remaining analysts covering the industry, as well as people who actually work in it, and concluded that Q3 ad revenue will be down 25 percent, or “possibly a bit less.” Awful by any standard except those of this year: Q1 was down 28.3 percent and Q2 was 29 percent.

Worth noting, but not in a newsworthy way: We’ve been headed in this direction for a while. Publishers, including the New York Times (NYT), Gannett (GCI) and McClatchy (MNI), started making hopeful murmurs–or less hopeless murmurs, really–earlier this summer. But all they’re really saying is that:

  • Things don’t seem to be getting any worse, and
  • It’s nearly impossible for year-over-year comparisons not to improve for the rest of the year since results will be measured against those posted in the fall of 2008, when the economy was in shocked-and-awed mode. Which we knew. But still worth repeating, and something we’ll probably repeat many more times through the rest of this year.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald