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More bleak headlines for US papers -

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More bleak headlines for US papers

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:50:00

Reporter: Kim Landers

TANYA NOLAN: The news is getting gloomier by the day for the newspaper industry in the United
States.

Forty-eight-million papers are sold there every day but the industry is still struggling for
survival. Some newspapers are closing, others are turning into online editions only, and many are
cutting staff and other costs.

Washington correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: Each week there are more bleak headlines about the state of the newspaper industry in
the United States.

'The Washington Post' is planning another round of buyouts in its newsroom and across the paper
because increases in online advertising are not making up for losses on the print side.

And 'The New York Times' is cutting pay for most of its employees by five per cent for the next
nine months.

The Tribune Company, which owns the 'LA Times' and 'Chicago Tribune', has filed for bankruptcy
protection.

And smaller papers like the 'Seattle Post-Intelligencer' and 'The Ann Arbor News' are rolling off
the presses for the last time.

So are we witnessing the slow death of the newspaper industry in America?

TOM ROSENSTIEL: I think it's probably been exaggerated - newspapers are not dying across the
country.

KIM LANDERS: Tom Rosenstiel is the director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Forty-eight-million newspapers are sold in the US each day yet some of the industry's other numbers
are chilling. Circulation for both daily and Sunday editions of papers has fallen by almost five
per cent and newspaper ad revenues have slumped 23 per cent in the past two years.

TOM ROSENSTIEL: One of the things that I think a lot of people don't realise is that the newspaper
industry in 2008 overall was profitable. It averaged about 11 per cent profit.

Now it made a lot of cutbacks in staffing and in the product to make those profits, but this is an
industry that still took in $US38-billion in ad revenue and another roughly $US7-billion in
subscription revenue in the last year.

The problem facing the newspaper industry is that as its audience is migrating to its websites
instead of its print edition, its revenue is shrinking because the web is not delivering
advertising the way that print did.

KIM LANDERS: A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism shows the number of Americans who
regularly go online for news has jumped 19 per cent in the last two years. Last year alone traffic
to the top 50 news sites rose 27 per cent.

Tom Rosenstiel says newspapers can't rely on their old business models.

TOM ROSENSTIEL: Now if you were an emerging silicon valley business and you said, well, we now have
16-million unique visitors a month, a venture capitalist might say, wow, that's a lot of different
people every month. We can make a business out of that. Not sure how, but let's see if we can make
a business out of that, because that's a good brand.

Well that's 'The New York Times' website; 16-million unique visitors a month and growing.

KIM LANDERS: So when we hear reports of newspapers shutting down or newspapers cutting their print
editions to just a couple of days a week, or newspapers ditching separate sections, we shouldn't
think that the newspaper industry here in the United States is on very shaky ground.

TOM ROSENSTIEL: The death of the American newspaper is not imminent but it is in decline, it is
shrinking and it has a limited amount of time to figure out whether it can develop a new,
alternative revenue model.

KIM LANDERS: And there's one other gloomy statistic. One out of every five journalists working for
newspapers in 2001 is now out of a job.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.