When I first began this post, I thought about listing the dead tree media conglomerates that are collapsing. But it would be easier to list the healthy ones. Aside from the few big blue papers that have cashed in on the resistance many, the New York Times and the Washington Post, it’s all imploding.
Here’s some of the state of play from the winter.
Gannett, the giant behind USA Today and many local lefty papers such as the Arizona Republic, the Detroit Free Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, fired 400 employees.
McClatchy, another newspaper giant, which publishes the Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star and the Charlotte Observer, among many others, announced voluntary buyouts for 10% of its employees after having fired 3.5% of its staff or 140 employees back in August. Tronc, another publishing giant, has already been making major cuts at newspapers like the New York Daily News and the Los Angeles Times.
I’m not even mentioning the digital media cutbacks though they are very much of a reality. And Vice just took another beating.
Here’s another tree in the dead tree forest.
GateHouse Media, the nationwide chain that owns more than 100 newspapers in Greater Boston. After years of gradual contraction, the company is suddenly laying off journalists by the dozens and merging its smaller weeklies.
The Providence Journal and Worcester’s Telegram & Gazette, were especially hard hit, losing about six journalists each (the Worcester numbers include Worcester Magazine, another GateHouse title). All told, the newspaper analyst Ken Doctor wrote for Nieman Lab, it looked like about 200 people would lose their jobs, offset slightly by the addition of 30 investigative and regional positions.
I obtained a confidential memo from GateHouse New England executives informing the troops that 50 of the company’s Greater Boston weeklies would be merged into 18. Although the memo said there would be no reduction in coverage, venerable titles such as the Danvers Herald and the Ipswich Chronicle will pass into history.
Short version, very few local papers will make it to 2030. Those that do will have to think much harder about serving consumers.
And one way to do that is to actually find underserved older readers, e.g. conservatives.
A number of conservative papers, and there aren’t many, are healthier than their red ink rivals, because they have a loyal readership that won’t just dump them for social media clickbait.
The dead tree media wishes it had readers like that. Especially once the flood of New York Times and Washington Post subscribers exit post-Trump.