facebook linkedin twitter

Newspapers Suffer Deep Losses as Pandemic Deals Another Blow

August 18, 2020 by Tom Ramstack

The New York Daily News put itself on the cutting edge of journalism again last week as it faces down a threat from coronavirus.

The newspaper, which has boasted one of the nation’s largest number of readers, closed its newsroom.

In fact, the owners also closed the newsrooms of their other newspapers in Annapolis, Maryland and Orlando, Florida.

They’re still in business but the newsroom employees are working remotely.

Telework is nothing new for many industries as they try to limit the spread of the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus.

For newspapers, the scenario is much worse.

Tribune Publishing, which owns the New York Daily News and other newspapers nationwide, summed up the outlook for their industry in a statement.

“Out of an abundance of caution we do not anticipate having employees that can work remotely coming back into the office for the remainder of the year and into 2021,” the statement said. “With no clear path forward in terms of returning to work, and as the company evaluates its real estate needs in light of health and economic conditions brought about by the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close the office.”

Another sign of the times came out of Wyoming, where the state lost its last true daily newspaper last month.

The Casper Star-Tribune halted its seven-days-per-week printings by eliminating its Monday and Tuesday editions.

A story announcing the change ran a subhead that said, “It could be the first time a U.S. state will publish no newspapers on Monday mornings…ever.” 

More than 36,000 mainly newspaper journalists have lost their jobs, been furloughed or suffered pay cuts since the pandemic came to the United States earlier this year, according to the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based non-profit Poynter Institute for Media Studies. The job losses have been spread across about 200 newsrooms.

Television news outlets also report layoffs but they are expected to be short term until the pandemic releases its financial grip on their advertisers.

Media watchers say the pandemic might be merely one more nail in the coffin for a newspaper industry that already was suffering deep losses.

Competition from Google, Facebook and other social media took many of the advertisers that provided the bulk of their revenue. Their bread-and-butter classified ads are now being hosted on the Internet as consumers surf the Web for local services.

A bill pending in Congress would carve out an exception to antitrust law to give newspapers a bigger piece of the 73% of all digital advertising now collected by Google and Facebook.

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act would allow newspapers to collectively withhold content from Google, Facebook and other online platforms unless the Internet companies negotiate terms to republish their work.

Supporters of the bill include the News Media Alliance, a trade association representing about 2,000 newspapers.

“The loss of the print ad revenue is not replaced by digital advertising due to the dominance of tech platforms,” Danielle Coffey, senior vice president of the News Media Alliance, told The Well News. (The Well News is a member of NMA)

She added, “The tech platforms control the distribution of information and collect data and revenue off the backs of quality journalism. This deprives news publishers of adequate return from their investments in reporters and newsrooms, which is necessary for local news to be around to cover the next crisis.”

Cable television and its 24-hour news broadcasts also make it difficult for newspapers to compete.

Newspaper advertising revenue dropped 62% between 2008 and 2018, from $37.8 billion to $14.3 billion, according to the nonprofit Pew Research Center.

As their financial conditions weaken, newspapers increasingly are being taken over by hedge funds looking for quick profits by drastically cutting costs and switching to more digital media.

Recent examples include Chatham Asset Management, the hedge fund that announced a deal to purchase the McClatchy Company. The acquisition gives the hedge fund control over 29 daily newspapers in 14 states.

Last year, New Media Investment Group hedge fund brokered a mega-merger of media giant Gannett with the Detroit Free-Press, the Arizona Republic and dozens of other newspapers.

The consequences of the newspaper industry’s woes could go far beyond one industry, according to University of Oregon journalism professor Damian Radcliffe.

“It would dramatically reduce journalism’s ability to deliver on its core purposes: holding authority to account, informing and empowering audiences and reflecting a community back to itself,” Radcliffe wrote in a recent editorial.

Media

October 11, 2021
by Dan McCue
Americans’ Trust in Media Continues to Slide

WASHINGTON – Americans’ trust in the news media continues to plummet, dropping four percentage points from last year’s already low... Read More

WASHINGTON – Americans’ trust in the news media continues to plummet, dropping four percentage points from last year’s already low 36%, a new Gallup poll has found. The poll, which was released last week also found the media continues to be a decidedly politically polarizing issue... Read More

September 22, 2021
by Dan McCue
Bill Aimed at Saving Local Journalism Included in Reconciliation Package

WASHINGTON -- A key piece of a bipartisan proposal to sustain local journalism has passed through the House Ways and... Read More

WASHINGTON -- A key piece of a bipartisan proposal to sustain local journalism has passed through the House Ways and Means Committee and is now part of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package currently awaiting a vote in the full chamber. When it was proposed by... Read More

September 22, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Trump Accuses His Niece and NY Times of Conspiracy for Revealing His Tax Returns

Former President Donald Trump accuses his niece and The New York Times of deceit and conspiracy to obtain his tax... Read More

Former President Donald Trump accuses his niece and The New York Times of deceit and conspiracy to obtain his tax returns in a lawsuit he filed Tuesday. The lawsuit asks for $100 million in compensation after the former president says he was victimized by an “insidious... Read More

September 16, 2021
by Dan McCue
Lone Sentence in Popular Series Could Cost Netflix a Cool $5 Million

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A single line in Netflix sensation “The Queen’s Gambit,” which is expected to rake in the... Read More

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A single line in Netflix sensation “The Queen’s Gambit,” which is expected to rake in the statues at this weekend’s 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, could wind up costing the streaming giant a cool $5 million thanks to a defamation lawsuit filed Thursday... Read More

September 4, 2021
by Dan McCue
Broadcasters Say Media Ownership Rules Are Detrimental to Competition, Diversity

WASHINGTON -- Regulations governing the ownership of broadcast radio and television stations harms broadcasters’ ability to compete in the marketplace,... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Regulations governing the ownership of broadcast radio and television stations harms broadcasters’ ability to compete in the marketplace, stymies service to local communities and fails to promote diversity in ownership, the National Association of Broadcasters said in a lengthy filing delivered to the Federal... Read More

September 1, 2021
by Dan McCue
Nielsen Has National Ratings Accreditation Yanked by Media Rating Council

Nielsen, which for decades has been providing television ratings for everything from presidential debates and political conventions to nightly newscasts,... Read More

Nielsen, which for decades has been providing television ratings for everything from presidential debates and political conventions to nightly newscasts, was reeling Wednesday after a key industry organization pulled its support of the company’s services. The Media Rating Council is a United States-based nonprofit organization that... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top