Newspapers reset advertising expectations after discouraging first half

Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Russell Adams says the lower ad revenue estimates could spur a return to more of the job cuts and other belt-tightening moves that spread through the newspaper industry in 2008 and 2009. He notes, though:

The current picture is a far cry from 2009, when ad-revenue declines hovered near 30% for a number of newspaper companies. In addition, the industry as a whole doesn't have the same balance-sheet problems after shedding much of its debt through reorganization and asset sales. And publishers have moved aggressively in the past couple years to increase digital revenues, in some cases charging online readers and in others branching into new businesses like e-commerce.

But analysts and executives say it will take more time for newspaper companies to cash in on their digital progress, and if current print trends don't abate in the short term, there will be more pain ahead.

Adams reports the key drag on ad results was a significant pullback by local retailers, which account for more than half of ad revenue at some papers. The uneasy economy and the longer-term shift of ad dollars online continue to play a big role, analysts and executives say. Another factor is the emergence of Groupon and other daily-deal sites.

Adams and Mike Spector report in another subscription-required story that unstable markets have stalled a deal for MediaNews Group to buy Freedom Communications' newspapers.

MediaNews and its advisers believe financing terms would be prohibitive given recent market turmoil and a challenging outlook for newspaper companies. Deal discussions between MediaNews and Freedom broke down earlier this year over price, but the two sides renewed talks during the summer.

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.


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