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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

More Bad News for Newspapers

Michael Calderone at Politico:
The decimation of the Daily News follows a familiar storyline in a struggling industry, as a national newspaper chain — in this case, Chicago-based Tronc — announces a “restructuring” (aka layoffs) of a paper that’s already been downsized in recent years. Tronc, which just bought the Daily News in September, laid off staffers at its Chicago Tribune in March and recently sold the Los Angeles Times, which was spared the axe as a result.
But Tronc’s decision to cut the Daily News newsroom in half, reportedly leaving as few as 40 people behind, also comes amid growing concerns that New York City, with a population of 8.5 million people, is already underserved when it comes to covering courts, cops and local communities.
The Daily News closed its bureaus in the outer boroughs in 2015, while The Wall Street Journal shuttered its “Greater New York” section in 2016 and The New York Times has trimmed metro coverage. The once-muckraking Village Voice killed its print edition last year, when New York City also saw the shuttering of much-beloved local site DNAInfo. The New York Post is kept afloat by 87-year-old billionaire Rupert Murdoch, but its future under his sons remains less certain.
From Pew:
Newspaper layoffs have far from abated in the past year, and digital-native news outlets are also suffering losses, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.
At least 36% of the largest newspapers across the United States – as well as at least 23% of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets – experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018, according to the study. Among newspapers, those with the highest circulation were most likely to be affected.
The analysis comes amid a series of highly publicized staff reductions by hedge fund companies that had acquired well-known newspapers, including The Denver Post, where employees publicly criticized the cuts made by the papers’ owners.
Ken Doctor at Nieman:
People have been forecasting the “death of newspapers” for more than a decade now. They see a kettle of vultures amid the ever-darkening clouds of print advertising collapse, slowed digital advertising, and the difficulty of signing up new digital subscribers.
Now the battle is heating up on Capitol Hill over tariffs that the Trump administration imposed on Canadian groundwood paper earlier this year.
The tariffs increase the cost of newsprint by as much as 30 to 35 percent, though the impact on publishers is highly uneven, with some chains in better shape and the dwindling independents most at risk. The predictable impacts already in motion: more newsroom layoffs, thinner (and reshaped) print products, fewer Sunday preprints, and an overall further diminishing of the value proposition newspapers are offering their readers.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will reduce its printing days from seven to five next month. The Nevada Appeal in Carson City, Nevada, moves from seven to just two days, while its parent cuts frequency on three adjacent papers.
Within the industry, there’s talk of “dropping Mondays” and replacing print editions with e-editions on other days as well. It looks as if newsprint tariffs will force more publishers to take the path Advance Publications first took six years ago, swapping daily print for digital.