North American publishers: we’re still making profits in this recession


WWnted to pass along the continued theme I’m hearing from North American publishers in phone calls this week: In the worst downturn since the Great Depression, with too heavy of a reliance on classified advertising in their business model, and with continued migration of eyeballs to the internet ... newspapers are still eeking out a profit by scaling operations!

Yet this story is being drowned out by the torrential negativity coming from:

  • Debt-ridden newsmedia companies breaking loan covenants and doing battles with bankers.

  • Closing of second-place local newspapers that can’t be sustained in this recession.

  • The drama surrounding marginally profitable newspapers in the best of times struggling mightily in the worst of times due mostly to insane union contracts.

  • The anger spewed forth by wounded publishers looking to paint Google, the Associated Press, and any other boogeyman as the cause of today’s woes.

Bottom-line: The recession stinks, but it’s going to be manageable for most even as they evolve into newsmedia companies. This just doesn’t fit the storyline that the sky is falling.