Newspapers are dying. You could probably guess as much just by picking one up. Even the Sunday editions have shrunk to nearly nothing. The ads can be thicker than the news sections.
The US has, as of 2017, 53 metro areas with populations exceeding 1million. 107 exceed 500,000. Yet, the US only has three (3) daily papers with circulations which exceed 1 million. Only 7 exceed 500,000 subscribers (4 are based in NYC).
Even as the cities continue to grow, the papers decline. And odds are your local paper isn’t even locally owned anymore. Hedge funds and other financials are rapidly taking control of print media. It’s not a warm, fuzzy relationship.
“They’re not reinvesting in the business,” Ken Doctor, a longtime newspaper analyst and president of the website Newsonomics, said about Alden Global. “It’s dying and they are going to make every dollar they can on the way down.”
Several hedge funds have become newspaper barons in recent years. Alden Global now owns about 60 daily newspapers through a subsidiary, Digital First Media. New Media Investment Group, which is managed and controlled by private-equity firm Fortress, owns almost 150 newspapers in smaller towns like Columbus, Ohio, and Providence, Rhode Island, through a unit, GateHouse Media. And hedge fund Chatham Asset Management LLC is one of the largest shareholders and bondholders in McClatchy Co., publisher of the Charlotte Observer and Miami Herald.
There are several ways to look at this:
First, you’re reading this on a computer. This site, a highly respected web log, is admittedly an Op-Ed operation. And, it’s small. I have neither the time, money, or interest in running full-time news here. The upside is that no globalist corporation controls anything here. Right now, one such company is trying to slow down my distribution. I’m not sure how the coming harsh EU regulations are going to affect their operations in America but it can’t hurt whatever comes. The other upside is that all the news sites in the world are just a few clicks away.
Second, and this is very cynical, given the literacy trends in the US, the papers may not have enough readers to subscribe to anything. That, I think (hope) will reverse. Tomorrow I start a 2-part series on that subject at TPC. You’ll see a link here.
Lastly, I think two types of print papers will survive, thrive maybe. The first group consists of the big three – WSJ, NYT, and USAToday. Maybe a few more regionals. They already deliver copy while running healthy, national websites too. I look for it to continue. And, for those of you at the base, local level, rejoice. I think a few small, local niche papers might make it, concentrating hard on what the locals expect out of whatever nuanced interest.
Come what may, I’ll be here until such time as the call of the mountains becomes irresistible.