Here’s a quick reminder that, despite the upbeat story lines we’ve heard about the greater media business during the past year or so, most newspapers are still very much in free fall. At the American Enterprise Institute’s Carpe Diem blog, Mark J. Perry finds that print ad revenues are now the lowest they've been since 1950, when the Newspaper Association of America began tracking industry data. Again, that's 1950, when the U.S. population was less than half its current size and the economy was about one-seventh as big. Revenues are down more than 50 percent in just the past five years alone.
“The dramatic decline in newspaper ad revenues since 2000 has to be one of the most significant and profound Schumpeterian gales of creative destruction in the last decade, maybe in a generation,” Perry writes.
And yet, his graph might actually understate the horror of last year’s newspaper financials. The problem isn’t simply that growing digital ad dollars can’t replace disappearing print money fast enough; it’s that digital ad revenue is barely growing at all.
And while circulation dollars are up, that growth is likely concentrated at national papers, like the New York Times, which have had success implementing pay walls for their websites. The Gray Lady now has 799,000 online-only subscribers, which helped its first quarter rise year over year. But metro papers haven’t had the same luck convincing their readers to pay. The San Francisco Chronicle, for instance, dropped its own pay wall after just four months.
So remember: While a handful of startups like Vox.com might be commanding the attention of media reporters these days, old-line newspapers are still bleeding revenue and cutting staff to the bone. It’s not pretty. And it’s not clear there’s much to be done about it.
TODAY IN SLATE
Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case
The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race
How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster
The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented
Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada
You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney
Or at least trade it for something.
- Texas Lab Worker on Cruise Tests Negative for Ebola as Dallas Hospital Apologizes
- Police Use Tear Gas to Break Up College Pumpkin Festival Turned Violent
- Racist Rancher Cliven Bundy Challenges Eric Holder in Bizarre Campaign Ad
- Supreme Court Allows Texas Law That Accepts Handgun Permits but not College IDs to Vote
An All-Female Mission to Mars
As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.