Thursday, September 04, 2008

Newspaper sales fall record $3B in 6 mos.

Total newspaper advertising revenues fell by $3 billion in the first six months of this year to $18.8 billion, the lowest level in a dozen years, according to data published today by the Newspaper Association of America.

The record 14% sales plunge featured the first-ever drop in online sales. Interactive revenues slipped by 2.3% in the second quarter of this year to $776.6 million. For the entire first half, online sales rose a modest $35 million, or 2.3%, to a bit less than $1.6 billion.

The $3 billion decline in just six months is equal to 6.6% of the industry's total sales of $45.4 billion in 2007. Based on the results in the first half of the year, it appears that total newspaper revenues will be less than $40 billion in 2008, the lowest in a dozen years.

As you can see in the chart below, print revenues have declined at an almost continuously accelerating rate for nine straight quarters since the second quarter of 2006.

The 16% decline in print sales in the second quarter of this year surpassed the prior record plunge of 14.4% in the first quarter of 2008. The drop in the first quarter of this year was larger than the slide in the last quarter of 2007. And so forth.

The sales debacle in the first half of this year was led by a collapse in print classified advertising, which fell nearly $1.8 billion, or 26%, to $5 billion.

Help-wanted and real estate advertising each dived by more than a third from the prior year. Recruitment sales fell $710.6 million, or 36%, to less than $1.3 billion in the first half of the year, while real estate tumbled $682.2 million, or 35.5%, to $1.2 billion in the same period. Automotive classifieds dropped $331 million, or 21.9%, to less than $1.2 billion.

National print sales slid $416 million, or 13.4%, to $3.1 billion, while print retail revenues dropped $913.7 million, or 10%, to $9.1 billion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see how the industry can survive in any recognizable form.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Tim A. Donnelly said...


remember the days when there was good news maybe once every four years or so? The best news recently at our paper: the cleaning staff determined that the mold growing under the Coke machine is not hazardous.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all good news.

The partisan smears against Sarah Palmer, and the cover-up of the John Edwards scandal, have proven that American newspapers are simply an arm of the Democratic Party.

They serve no useful purpose. Let them go bankrupt, and soon.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Tim Windsor said...


Unfortunately, if you look at the numbers using constant 2008 dollars, the news looks even worse.

I haven't run the chart yet with online numbers included, but there's clearly not enough online revenue in 2008 to make up the $4 billion needed to bring the combined total to 1982 levels (in constant dollars).

6:24 PM  
Blogger Alisha said...

Given the economic forecast it's going to get a lot worse than better in the short to medium term.

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If newspapers are "an arm of the Democratic Party," they're a really bad arm. Especially since they cheered or ignored just about every horrible decision made and crime against Democracy committed by Pres. Bush over the last eight years. That said, what's with the conservative trolls? Why does everything have to be about politics for bitter right wingers? And who is Sarah Palmer?

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think if you went back to newspapers owned by families or individuals instead of corporations who have to please all those stockholders, it would go better. A newspaper can be run to earn an acceptable profit figure but when a corporation owns it, that profit isn't big enough because newspaper revenues aren't growing as are other industries. Soooo, in an effort to create more profit by eliminating expenses, the beancounters axe the very newstaffers who put the news in newspapers and the cycle continues.

Uh-huh. And P. T. Barnum never needed that elephant to put butts in the seats either.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that the classified advertising market has collapsed, it does not matter who owns newspapers. Most of them simply are not viable businesses, in my opinion.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well clearly, all they need to do to turn this around is get rid of even more content, that'll bring the readers back!


3:54 PM  
Blogger Richard Chase said...

It should not be any great mystery or surprise major newspapers are failing and losing readers at such an enormous clip.

Main Stream Media made the disgraceful and completely un-American decision to decide what was news and to what extent that news would contain full disclosure and actual (unbiased) useful information. Major stories have been completely ignored by major media organizations if they did not further the agenda of their favored political/commercial interests. Newspapers, Magazines and network news providers have ceased providing fair and honest journalistic, investigative and objective reporting on important, critical issues. I personally believe this is a deliberate, industry-wide effort to make populations more susceptible to orchestrated, below the radar manipulation and control by megalomaniacal neo-con groups, organizations and individuals that truly control the media empires of the world.

I only hope that this reported economic failure is a direct result of the public's realization of and refusal to be so shamefully used and mislead by formerly great and trusted institutions.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the economic background, this is bad news.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

turn off the's over..the printer is jammed.

6:24 AM  
Blogger vssports said...

To Evil Pundit:
Apparently you don't know who Sarah Palmer (or Palin) is either.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Fernanda Gomes said...

I followed the link to the data by NAA, but nothing appears on 2008 ad revenues. The data ends on 2007. Perhaps it was removed...?

8:45 PM  
Blogger Fernanda Gomes said...

I followed the link to the data by NAA, but nothing appears on 2008 ad revenues. The data ends on 2007. Perhaps it was removed...?

8:45 PM  
Blogger Newsosaur said...

Per the previous comment, here
is an updated link to NAA data.

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked for newspapers as a reporter for over 30 years - the most recent The philadelphia Inquirer. I took a package and left in 2007. My advice - GET OUT NOW!!!
Being a print journalist is like working for a pay phone installer - no future at all!!!
I found a grest new career and advise anyone still in print media to find new work NOW before the market is flooded when the papers die in the next five years.

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Allan, how does the future look for big city small newspapers (such as in NYC-Queens Tribune, Bayside Times...etc...very local papers that divide big cities into neighborhoods)?

Whats a good lateral movement for a print reporter?
Thanks for any help, Doug

12:11 PM  
Blogger REKording said...

I have been thinking about the future of periodicals for a while, and believe that the future belongs to aggregations and recommendations. Self-publishing is a reality. Self-editing is a laugh. People have tools to delived tons of material, but don't possess the professional judgment to winnow it.

My latest blog entry, "Of Editors and Advertisers", at elaborates on this theme.

8:49 PM  

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