Last March, Time magazine published a list of 10 major daily newspapers it predicted would fold within 18 months.Well, as Buffalo News editor Margaret Sullivan pointed out recently in the Wisconsin State Journal, we’ve got about four months left until that deadline, and alas, it looks like Time was a bit off!
Maybe even way off.
As the 18-month mark approaches, Time is not exactly batting 1.000. More like zero. The well-accepted belief that newspapers are closing is simply not true.
Of the roughly 1,400 American dailies, 11 have gone out of business in the past two years, well under one per cent. And among those that did fold, a number were in cities with more than one major paper. The Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, for example, stopped print publication – but both were in markets with daily newspaper competition.
What’s more, newspaper profit margins, after falling for many years, may actually improve this year, according to a new J.P. Morgan analysis, as revenue declines moderate and newspaper companies reap the results of cost-cutting.
Of course, that’s not to say the reality facing newspapers isn’t harsh.
In the six-month period ending March 31, 2010, overall Sunday circulation droped 6.5%, and weekday sales 8.7%, from the same period a year earlier, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s most recent report.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Monday through Friday average circulation was 268,803, a decline of 13.9% from a year earlier. Home delivery increased 4.5%. Sunday circulation dropped by 2.7% to 247,416.
Time magazine had said: 'Its parent company, Sun-Times Media Group, trades for 3 cents per. The paper has no chance of competing with the Chicago Tribune.'
The Detroit News had an average weekday circulation drop of 10.1% (to 149,872 readers). Circulation for Thursday and Friday home delivery days fell 7.6 % to 159,577 readers.
Time magazine had said: 'With the fortunes of Detroit getting worse each day, cutting back the number of days the paper is delivered would not save enough money to keep the paper open.'
Weekday circulation dropped more than 22%.
Time magazine had said: 'Parent company Hearst has already set a deadline for shuttering the paper if it cannot make tremendous cost cuts. The Chronicle lost as much as $70 million last year. The online version of the paper could be the only version by the middle of 2009.'
The Star-Telegram told us that its most recent numbers saw a drop of 12,625 in daily circulation, 13,331 on Saturdays, and 9,655 on Sundays from 2008.
Time magazine had said: 'The parent of the Dallas Morning News, Belo, is probably a stronger company than the Star-Telegram's parent, McClatchy. The Morning News has a circulation of about 350,000, while the Star-Telegram has just over 200,000. The Star-Telegram will have to shut down or become an edition of its rival. Putting them together would save tens of millions of dollars a year.'
Daily circulation dropped 8.14 per cent. Sunday circulation dropped 7.87 per cent, from 393,352 to 362,394.
Time magazine had said: 'Its parent, Advance Publications, has already threatened to close its paper in Newark. Advance, owned by the Newhouse family, is carrying the burden of its paper plus Condé Nast, its magazine group, which is losing advertising revenue. The Plain Dealer will be shut or go digital by the end of next year.'
Weekday circulation declined 15.5% to 170,769, and Sunday circulation dropped 12.9% to 235,224.
Time magazine had said: 'Newspaper advertising has been especially hard-hit in Florida because of the tremendous loss in real estate advertising. The Herald has strong competition north of it, in Fort Lauderdale. There is a very small chance it could merge with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, but it is more likely that the Herald will go online-only with two editions, one for English-language readers and one for Spanish.'
In late April, a committee of lenders purchased the bankrupt Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, parent company of The Philadelphia Daily News, for $135 million.
Time magazine had said: 'The company says it will make money this year, but with newspaper advertising still falling sharply, the city cannot support two papers, and the Daily News has a daily circulation of only about 100,000. The tabloid has a small staff, most of whom could probably stay on at Philly.com, the Web operation for both of the city dailies.'
The paper shed 24,681 weekday subscribers, a 7.7% decline from the same period a year earlier.
Time magazine had said: ' The Minneapolis Star Tribune has filed for Chapter 11. The paper may not make money this year, even without the costs of debt coverage. The company said it made $26 million last year, about half of what it made in 2007. The odds are that the Star Tribune will lose money this year if its ad revenue drops another 20%. There is no point for creditors to keep the paper open if it cannot generate cash. It could become an all-digital property, as supporting a daily circulation of more than 300,000 is too much of a burden. It could survive if its rival, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, folds. A grim race.'
It has increased its circulation by more than 40,000 copies and is now beating Rupert Murdoch's New York Post.
Time magazine had said: ' The New York Daily News is one of several large papers fighting for circulation and advertising in the New York City area. Unlike the New York Times, the New York Post, Newsday and Newark's Star-Ledger, the Daily News is not owned by a larger organisation -- real estate billionaire Mort Zuckerman owns the paper. Based on figures from other big dailies, it could easily lose $60 million or $70 million, and has no chance of recovering from that level.'
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.