Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Community newspapers cite data showing they're in much better shape than metro counterparts

Community newspapers continued to fare much better than their metropolitan counterparts in the last quarter of 2008, according to data gathered by Suburban Newspapers of America and the National Newspaper Association, the main national organization that includes rural weeklies.

The organizations surveyed hundreds of community papers and found that total advertising revenue was down 6.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007. That was a steeper decline than those reported in earlier quarters of 2008, ranging from 1.7 to 2.7 percent, making the annual decline 3.6 percent. But those figures were still far better than those for the U.S. newspaper industry, in which most revenue goes to dailies.

The Newspaper Association of America, the main interest group for dailies, reported revenue declines ranging from 13 to 18 percent in the first three quarters. "Glennco Consulting Group estimates an overall industry decline in fourth quarter advertising expenditures of 21 percent, and many large companies have reported declines in excess of 20 percent," NNA said in a news release.

Community newspapers "are not reducing staff in significant ways," the release said. "In fact, only half of the reporting companies had staff reductions in 2008, almost entirely through attrition. Indeed, with a focus on growth strategies, 26 percent of the reporting group launched new products in 2008." SNA President Nancy Lane said, "The declines in 2008 are clearly economy-driven. Community papers are affected by the current economic downturn but they are not in a crisis."

The survey tracked financial data for all publications except dailies with circulations over 100,000. Most SNA and NNA members have much smaller circulations. "Due to the wide variety of reporting procedures, only total advertising was tracked," the release said. (Read more)

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