A few months ago, The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released its annual study of the media business. As you might guess, it’s bleak. The questions aren’t just about how the media will recover after a (let’s hope) short-term recession, but rather they center on the long view, which is equally dire. “The market research and investment banking firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson projects that by 2013, after the economic recovery, three elements of old media â€” newspapers, radio and magazines â€” will take in 41% less in ad revenues than they did in 2006.
“For newspapers, which still provide the largest share of reportorial journalism in the United States, the metaphor that comes to mind is sand in an hourglass. The shrinking money left in print, which still provides 90% of the industryâ€™s funds, is the amount of time left to invent new revenue models online. The industry must find a new model before that money runs out.
“The losses are already enormous. To quantify the impact, with colleague Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute we estimate that the newspaper industry has lost $1.6 billion in annual reporting and editing capacity since 2000, or roughly 30%. That leaves an estimated $4.4 billion remaining. Even if the economy improves we predict more cuts in 2010.”
The news is equally dire for magazines, although not to the extent of that facing newspapers. “In magazines, the number of ad pages sold across all titles studied fell by 26% in 2009, more than double the decline of a year earlier (12%). Almost every magazine suffered. Only 8% of the nearly 250 titles monitored saw an increase in ad pages. Among news magazines, the larger ones were hard hit. Time and Newsweek, for instance, saw ad pages fall 17% and 26% respectively. Niche news magazines examined tended to do better, though even here, the only one to gain ad pages was the Week, up 9.5 percent.” For some other key findings, click here.
For a very good discussion about the state of the today’s news business, check out the July 16 episode of On the Media, available on iTunes as a podcast.