And the obligatory press reaction equating one group’s woes with a domino effect. I’ve already done a print interview and television interview this morning, and the storyline continues to be that it’s just a matter of time before all newspapers everywhere close.
Let me repeat my thesis: Every newspaper whose country is undergoing an economic downturn is experiencing – you guessed it – an economic downturn. Every newspaper is fighting through that downturn.
It is the marginal companies in good times and the companies that took on extraordinary debt in the good times that are closing or filing for reorganisation protection in bad times. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News were No. 2 newspapers in markets that can only viably sustain one print newspaper. Tribune, Philadelphia Newspapers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Journal Register filed for bankruptcy protection because they had extraordinary debt. The Michigan newspapers that are reducing home-delivery from seven days a week to 2-3 days are at the epicenter of the collapse of the U.S. auto industry.
Does it take a brain surgeon to identify the companies that are the next prime candidates for reorganisation?
In May/June 2008, my colleague Alan Mutter put together a fabulous “Default-O-Matic” chart that only he can get away with. Look at it today, and see the headlines still to come.
Yet these are not indicative of the 1,424 dailies in the United States, and they are not indicative of the 11,207 dailies worldwide.
Brace yourself for the tortuous drip-drip-drip effect of these headlines, but understand the nuances that aren’t getting reported by journalists trying to cover journalism in an industry going through a shakeout.