Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another Day, Another Newspaper Files for Bankruptcy

It was a tough weekend for East Coast newspapers.

Both the holding company of Philadelphia's two newspapers -- Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia News -- as well as the holding company of the New Haven Register and 19 other dailies filed for bankruptcy.

Three other newspapers companies have filed for bankruptcy since Dec. 2008.

And more are in precarious positions. The New York Times recently cut its dividend again to save capital for the business.

As a side note, what's interesting is that yesterday's Journal article took aim at its midtown rival, reporting: "Newspaper companies have been pounded by spiraling advertising declines, but many of their wounds are self-inflicted," and then mentioned the New York Times.

At the same time, the New York Times took a bigger potshot against the Journal in an article,
"Murdoch’s Soft Spot for Print Slows News Corp." Of course, by saying that News Corp's dependence on its newspaper business is dragging down its revenues, is not a great point for the Times to make -- since the Times is suffering from the same trends.

But at least they get to bash the Journal.

As for PR functions, there are two lessons from this:
  1. Look for more layoffs and cutbacks at large metro papers. Which means: we need to find alternative ways to communicate information to key audiences.
  2. Don't try to buy newspapers -- which is what Brian Tierney, a Philadelphia public-relations executive, did. The deal has not worked so well for him.

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