Newspaper Industry Struggles: Association Reports Wide Losses

Print revenue has continued its decline, and online revenue has not filled the gap, the Newspaper Association of America reports.

For the newspaper industry, it’s yet another quarter of disappointment.

That’s what the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) recently reported in its latest report of advertising expenditures in the industry.

While ad departments are trying innovative approaches to help build the appeal of online advertising (some including associations, by the way), the field continues to struggle as a whole. Some highlights from the report:

The bad news: Newspaper revenues continue to drop significantly—and haven’t had a quarter in the black since the second quarter of 2006. The current quarter is no exception, with the industry facing a 6.4 percent dip in print revenue and a 5.1 percent drop in overall revenue in the third quarter of 2012.

The worse news: If you’re looking for a knight in shining armor to save the industry, don’t look to the internet. Online advertising isn’t keeping up with the losses being taken by the newspaper industry at large, the NAA’s report suggests. Online advertising saw a year-over-year increase of 3.6 percent in the third quarter of 2012. Increases have been slow throughout 2012.

The silver lining: While the decline in newspaper industry ad revenues continues, the rate is slowing down. Percentage-wise, the decline in print revenue is the smallest the industry has sustained since 2007, while the decline in overall revenue is the smallest since 2010. But even the silver lining has a dark spot: The pie is much smaller than it once was, dropping from $49.3 billion to $23.9 billion between 2006 and 2012.

Should newspapers go all digital? That’s what Digiday’s Josh Sternberg suggests in a piece riffing off the numbers. “Newspapers must change their economics,” he claims. “Anyone with a passing understanding of the online ad business knows that it’s fanciful to believe online ads will miraculously pull in the same rates as legacy print placements. Newspapers are living in denial. It’d be better if they made the leap now and fix their cost base for a new world.”

If your association was facing major disruption, similar to what the newspaper industry faces, how would you work through it? Is it a matter of changing economics, or is more at play here?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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