For Print Media, The Bottom Is Falling Out And There’s Very Little High Ground

I hesitate to post an article about the suffering newspaper business, because it is a story we already know. Yet, given that our own fates are tied to their demise, let’s look at some numbers…

According to Media Daily News, The New York Times Company’s operating profit fell from $52.7 million in the first quarter of 2010 to $31.1 million in the first quarter of 2011 — a 41% drop.

Focusing on specific categories, The Times saw national advertising slip 1.6% to $156.3 million, retail fall 8.6% to $58.2 million, and classifieds decline 5.7% to $45.8 million.

The Times isn’t alone. McClatchy’s national advertising plunged 29.3% to $18.1 million in the first quarter; retail sank 12.5% to $114.4 million; and classifieds slipped 7.8% to $64.8 million.

Will revenue from digital advertising save the day (and by “day,” I mean journalism and advertising)? Sure, in the end, all these floating pixels may indeed save the day.

Meanwhile it pains me to see an American institution like The New York Times struggle to find its way through the digital forest. It also pains me to look at the state of online display advertising today and realize how far away the ad industry is from a real solution.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. A lot more questions than answers for newspapers like NYT. But, there is a distinction between newspapers and journalism.

    Journalism won’t die. Despite what the next reality tv show might make us think, people still want reporters who chase stories, dig up truth, and supply news. Finding where and how this fits in to the shifting digital landscape is what makes it tough for newspapers. Many sold themselves short years ago when they allowed free digital content. In the end, that might not have mattered either as far as falling profit.