Newspapers: It’s Officially, Officially, Very, Very Bad

We’re just going to assume that everyone who reads FBNY is acutely aware (more than a number of you probably first-hand) that the newspaper industry is in a free fall. It’s a rare day that at least one of our posts does not cover some lay-off here, or some shuttering there. And today is no different. Just worse. In fact it’s possible that the future of newspapers glass is still a bit too full. According to the Observer this may be the “worst year in modern newspaper history.”

But as bad as newspapers have been doing — it’s been conventional wisdom for a few years now — the industry is actually doing much worse than most ever anticipated, and that’s become painfully clear over the past two months.
Which brings us to the just reported New York Times Co. second-quarter earnings. Times Co. stocks have fallen 82% from last year. Here’s the numbers per the AP: “Net income dropped to $21.1 million, or 15 cents per share, from $118.4 million, or 82 cents per share, a year ago.” However! (despite everything we happen to be glass-half-full people) the company does report a gain in revenue from its internet properties, which “jumped 13 percent to $91.3 million and accounted for about 12 percent of total revenue.”

All this talk of dropping brings us to Sam Zell, current agent-of-doom for all things Tribune Co., and he’s not apologizing.

We’re looking at some of the worst advertising numbers in the history of the world. I have a responsibility … to keep this business alive when cash flow has eroded at a prodigious level. We’re not interested in trial by torture, not interested in dying by a thousand cuts…We’re doing everything we can to make this downsizing happen as quickly and as painlessly as possible.”
Quick? Frighteningly so. Painless? Not so much.