Newspapers Screwed — No Matter Who Owns Them

As the newspaper business gets lousier, optimists spend more time daydreaming about the St. Petersburg Times, the regional paper owned by the non-profit Poynter Institute. What if papers were owned by good-hearted philanthropists instead of greedy Wall Streeters?

Well, they’d have the same problems that for-profit papers face, the NYT reports:

Advertising in The St. Petersburg Times is also suffering, with double-digit declines in auto, real estate and employment classifieds over the last year alone. Increased advertising in a new, free tabloid it publishes and on the Web have not made up the difference.

The declines in revenue have brought sacrifices here as everywhere else in the business. The newsroom staff has been cut to about 360 from about 390, mainly by attrition, since January. The size of the paper was narrowed recently to save newsprint. Two pages were taken out of the Saturday business section by eliminating some stock tables. In Citrus County, north of the St. Petersburg area, the paper’s bureau has been closed and the local edition has been eliminated. Obituaries beyond seven lines are no longer free. Selling obituaries made the obit pages advertising pages, preserving some space for news that otherwise would have been lost.

To reiterate: Newspapers are grappling with problems that aren’t going away — no matter who owns them. NYT

Related: Newspapers Screwed, Part XVII