(12-14-22) On December 1st employees at Gannett’s newspapers, which include USA Today, The Indianapolis Star, St. Cloud Times and The Detroit Free Press, began receiving layoff notifications, part of an effort to cut about 6 percent of the company’s roughly 3,440-person U.S. media division.

It is not unusual to see a tweet like this, the Times of NWI is owned by Lee Enterprises, which owns newspapers in over 50 Midwestern markets –

The December layoffs are the third round of cuts at Gannett in six months. In August, the company laid off 400 people and eliminated another 400 open positions. Gannett then announced another round of cuts in October including buyouts, a hiring freeze and the suspension of company contributions to employee 401(k) accounts. Employees also will be required to take a week of unpaid leave over the holidays.

Gannett Co., saw a $110 million net loss in 2022, prompting executives to cut their workforce.

Between the pre-pandemic months of late 2019 and the end of May 2022, more than 360 newspapers closed, the report by Medill’s Local News Initiative found. Since 2005, the country has lost more than one-fourth of its newspapers and is on track to lose a third by 2025.

Charles Lipson, a native of Marks, Mississippi and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Chicago

Why the decline?:

  • Online news is now readily available, much of it free.
  • The instant availability of online news means that tomorrow’s print edition is already “old news” before the paper is thrown on the porch.
  • The proliferation of websites for news, ads, and merchandise has demolished a main source of newspaper income: their ability to charge monopoly prices for classified ads and full-page layouts from Macy’s, Nieman-Marcus, and Marshall Field’s. They could charge those high prices as late as the mid-1990s because general circulation papers were the only way to reach the entire consumer market in New York, Chicago, or Dallas. No more. And, of course, classified ads quickly migrated online to Craigslist, killing that very profitable revenue stream.
  • Local papers must now compete with sites from other cities and even other countries. Papers that were once confined to local markets, like the New York Post, have developed a huge national reach, in part because they offer a rare alternative to left-wing papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. The Daily Mail, once confined to London, has developed such a large following in the U.S. and Australia that its online site now includes sections focused on those countries. Magazines that were once weekly, like Newsweek and Time, now change their content every day, which makes them competitors with other daily news sites. Another magazine, Britain’s Spectator, changes its content daily and has such a large U.S. online readership that it has developed a site oriented specifically to U.S. readers.
  • Online-only sites have proliferated. Some, like RealClearPolitics and Politico, are truly national. Others have replaced local papers in New Orleans and Memphis, jettisoning the legacy overhead costs. Still others, like Substack, host hundreds of serious columnists, including some, like Bari Weiss, who was driven out of the New York Times newsroom for apostasy. John Kass, until recently the Chicago Tribune’s most prominent columnist, left the paper for similar reasons and started his own website. Weiss and Kass are hardly alone.
  • Most of the remaining “print” papers have become essentially online operations. The Washington Post, for example, has only 159,000 print subscribers but over 3 million online. That means readers in Tulsa or Tucson, who never had access to the Post or Times, can now read those national papers. That’s good news for readers but bad news for local papers unless they can provide unique local content. That’s what the best papers do. But even there, fresh sites are springing up online to provide local content without the overhead of print operations.
  • “Chat” sites, such as Twitter, have become unexpected sources of news and opinion – some of it well informed, some of it useless noise. There is no editorial filter, as there is for established publications. There are only algorithms, which censor junk, disinformation, and, unfortunately, some legitimate content (either inadvertently or tendentiously). Equally important, they create an echo chamber by directing different content to different users.

What do you think about the crisis in the newspaper industry?

So what do you use to secure your news?

Do you still subscribe to a newspaper? Do you purchase an online subscription to get you local newspaper? Do you check out digital news web sites (like the Outlook) for local news? Do you get it from social media? Do you get from local tv and radio stations?

Newspapers and the Telegraph –

The telegraph, which had started in 1837, was replaced in most applications in developed countries by digital data-transmission systems based on computer technology.