The newspaper business is getting the shit kicked out of it these days--and there have been fatalities. Yet others are in critical condition.
But the newspaper industry as a whole is not going away.
A decline in circulation and advertising revenues (especially at daily newspapers), combined with the economic mess that's been hurting almost every business imaginable, has killed off/is killing off economically marginal newspapers. The Rocky Mountain News died last month; the Seattle Post-Intelligencer took its last figurative print-version breaths earlier this week (though Hearst Corp. is keeping it going in a stripped-down, online-only format). We learned just as we were going to press that the Tucson Citizen got a last-minute, temporary reprieve (more details at blog.tucsonweekly.com), but the afternoon daily's future remains very much up in the air.
As I write this, we here at Weekly World Central are wrapping our heads around a 10 percent budget cut that we need to make.
More newspapers will die in the coming months, given the economy. But the newspaper biz is not dying.
A lot of pundits and talking heads are making predictions about the demise of the newspaper as a whole; I even read one moron who claimed that 85 percent of newspapers will be dead by 2011.
Yes, some newspaper companies--including Gannett and, especially, Lee Enterprises, the Arizona Daily Star's owner--overleveraged themselves and are in deep fiscal trouble. However, many newspapers themselves remain profitable despite this economy--and are going to stick around, even if their parent companies falter.
Daily newspapers as a whole have some things to figure out in the long-term--I've written before about the self-created downward spiral they put themselves in--but many of them will figure it out. Meanwhile, alternative newsweeklies (like the Tucson Weekly) and well-run niche publications have a steady future ahead of them; we aren't in a downward spiral at all, although the economy's put the hurt on us.
The bottom line: For the foreseeable future, we're here to stay, folks. The rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.