Investment guru Warren Buffett’s outlook on newspapers is dismal

In fact, Warren Buffett has said don’t buy newspaper stock at any price. The days of the monopoly newspapers huge readership and advertising revenue are long gone.

What happened? Take a look at this modest blog’s stats: The 7-day traffic average is now passing hundreds of thousands of hits.  The majority are college graduates and in their peek buying years ages 25-55.
I predict the Boston Globe will go online with just a Friday/Sunday printed and delivered paper. 

The age of objectivity and fair reporting in America is over — MSNBC is disgraced

Who is a Democrat PR talking head and who is a journalist on MSNBC, NBC or CNN? Why stop there? The Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times and SF Chronicle are not investigating economic issues and massive bailouts. What kind of balanced journalism do you think the media performed during the two-year election?

First the gang journalists piled on Hillary, next they covered for Obama and attacked Palin.

MSNBC was the victim of a hoax when it reported that an adviser to John McCain had identified himself as the source of an embarrassing story about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the network said Wednesday.

The New York TImes had a reporter rewrite an AP story on the hoax and they spun the story to blame FOX News first with the hoax.  This is called journalism?

MSNBC was the victim of a hoax when it reported that an adviser to John McCain had identified himself as the source of an embarrassing story about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the network said Wednesday.

David Shuster, an anchor for the cable news network, said on air Monday that Martin Eisenstadt, “a McCain policy adviser,” had come forth and identified himself as the source of a story saying Palin had mistakenly believed Africa was a country instead of a continent.

Eisenstadt identifies himself on a blog as a senior fellow at the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy and “a contributor to FOX News.” Yet neither he nor the institute exist; each is part of a hoax dreamed up by a filmmaker named Eitan Gorlin and his partner, Dan Mirvish, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The Eisenstadt claim had mistakenly been delivered to Shuster by a producer and was used in a political discussion Monday afternoon, MSNBC said.

“The story was not properly vetted and should not have made air,” said Jeremy Gaines, network spokesman. “We recognized the error almost immediately and ran a correction on air within minutes.”

Gaines told the Times that someone in the network’s newsroom had presumed the information solid because it was passed along in an e-mail from a colleague.

The hoax was limited to the identity of the source in the story about Palin—not the Fox News story itself. While Palin has denied that she mistook Africa for a country, the veracity of that report was not put in question by the revelation that Eisenstadt is a phony.

Eisenstadt’s “work” had been quoted and debunked before. The Huffington Post said it had cited Eisenstadt in July on a story regarding the Hilton family and McCain.

Among the other victims were political blogs for the Los Angeles Times and The New Republic, each of which referenced false material from Eisenstadt’s blog.

“The story was not properly vetted and should not have made air,” said Jeremy Gaines, MSNBC spokesman.

There are plenty of questions that are not asked.

How did Minnesota Democrat Party election officials come up with 500 more votes for the Democrat senate candidate days after the polls closed and none for the Republican candidate?

Why was there a crisis over $150,000 spent on Sarah Palin’s campaign clothing, but no comparison with Hillary’s warehouse of pantsuits or Obama’s Greek columns and semi-truck of suits?

Newspaper and news magazine circulation is dropping. Layoffs continue. (Wait until after January).

The Star Tribune bankrupt

By Mick Gregory

We are observing the death throws of a star on its way to becoming a white dwarf. Gasses spewing, used matter is shredded and  thrown out. The size of the once bright, powerful force rapidly shrinks as it collapses on itself. These are the telltale signs of a dying star.

The Star Tribune, once among the Midwest’s largest newspapers, was purchased by the Sacramento-based McClatchy media company in 1998. The “executive editors”  paid $1.2 billion for it from a family who wanted out of the business.

In less than 10 years, the rapid growth of Google, Drudgereport, Craigslist, E-Bay, FaceBook and WordPress lured away much of the newspaper audience and built new readers/users that were not newspaper-friendly. So the advertising found new rising stars.

Last year, Avista, a New York-based private equity group, purchased the dying Star Tribune for less than half of what McClatchy paid only eight years earlier.

Since Avista’s purchase, the star has been shedding  reporters, editors, photographers, advertising sales staff and designers through two rounds of buyouts and the elimination of open positions. That was just a show for creditors.

Now, in January of 2008, the Star-Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

The Star Tribune’s long-term business slump has continued, with revenue declining by about 25 percent, from $400 million in 2000 to $300 million last year, according to a Star Tribune story in July. While major expenses such as newsprint and transportation  increased.  Even those adult newspaper carriers throwning papers out of the window of their pickups, need to be paid.

Several weeks ago, Avista announced that it was writing down the value of its $100 million equity investment in the Star Tribune to $25 million. That’s $75 million wiped out in one year. The Star shed more than $1.15 billion in value over nine years. The new owners are getting pennies on the dollar trying to restructure their debt.

The only candidates for buying into debt-ridden newspapers now are hedge funds, especially those that make a specialty of distressed debt investments, according to several industry observers. It’s called a loan-to-own strategy, they calculate that the owners like Avista will default on their new loans and the fund becomes the new owner for pennies on the dollar. What’s left may be some downtown real estate and a false store-front Web site. This is the white dwarf stage. And there are hundreds more flickering, spewing gas and spitting out  used up matter.

Newspapers Drop Circulation Again. Sunday Circulation Falls by Nearly 5 %

Mick Gregory

The New York Times circulation fell 4.5 percent.

Here is a lesson to reporters who keep carping on “high profit margins.” There is no growth in this industry. That’s why stockholders won’t buy into your obsolete business model.

The future is bleak. There is too much competition now. Your one horse town monopolies don’t mean anything anymore in the global economy.

Circulation fell at most U.S. newspapers in the six months to September, according to statistics released on Monday that for the first time include Internet readership in a bid by publishers to boost their attractiveness to advertisers.

Average daily paid circulation for newspapers printed Monday through Friday fell 2.6 percent and Sunday circulation fell 3.5 percent for the six-month period that ended September 30, 2007, compared with the year before, according to publishers’ statistics released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Most big city dailies reported that average daily paid print circulation fell. Dow Jones & Company Inc said daily circulation at The Wall Street Journal, including paid subscriptions to its Web site, dropped 1.5 percent, while The New York Times fell 4.5 percent.

Advertisers have considered print circulation key to determining where they spend their dollars, but publishers hope the Web numbers will provide a better picture of the true reach of newspapers. Editors never bothered to push for a level playing field by counting total readership as broadcast uses viewers.

“We generally agree that we can now truly gauge the impact of newspapers across the variety of media platforms that they truly represent,” said Dave Walker, chief executive of Newspaper Services of America, which buys ad space in papers.

Gannett Co Inc reported a 1 percent rise in daily paid circulation at USA Today, while the Philadelphia Inquirer said circulation rose 2.3 percent.

The Washington Post reported a 3.23 percent drop, while the Chicago Tribune fell 2.9 percent. Its parent company Tribune Co said circulation fell at Long Island, New York’s Newsday, but rose 0.5 percent at the Los Angeles Times.

The new data includes the number of people estimated to read a paper, not just how many papers were sold.

Many also are reporting usage of their Web sites, as well as a figure that tries to count print and Web site use without counting people twice who use both.

Alan Mutter, a former newspaper editor who writes a blog on newspaper and media issues called Reflections of a Newsosaur, said many newspaper Web site visitors to not remain long enough to make them worthwhile for advertisers.

“Who would work at a newspaper today, except liberal perverts… Why wouldn’t they be working as Web masters?”
–Michael Savage

Circulation fell at most U.S. newspapers in the six months leading up to September, according to statistics released on Monday from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). For the first time, the 19th century “official” verification company for newspapers includes Internet readership in last chance bid by publishers to boost their attractiveness to advertisers.

It’s always slow for the editor-centric newspaper business to catch on to common media practices let alone innovation. After all, most newspapers are run by former reporters who made their way up the ranks to management by making “scopes” and stabbing their coworkers in the back; not on actual business accomplishments or enterprise.

Sunday circulation fell nearly 5 percent.

The declines come as readers move online, but they also stem from publishers’ efforts to cut discounted copies from their subscription rolls, said a spokeswoman for the Newspaper Association of America.

Some papers, particularly in California and Florida, are dealing with the weak housing market, while others face their own regional trends, such as in Michigan where papers have cut jobs as they serve markets hurt by the slumping auto industry.
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After Fighting to Change Upper Tier Management at the New York Times, Major Investment Bank Morgan Stanley Sells Off $183 Million in Shares

Mick Gregory

The New York Times empire is crumbling. Look out for falling debris. Stock is at a 10-year low.

Now, it is the top headline on the Drudge Report.

Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest shareholder in New York Times Co., sold its entire 7.3 percent stake today, according to a citizen journalist who knew of the transaction, sending the stock to its lowest in more than 10 years.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act didn’t do anything for investor rights of New York Times stock.
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Newspapers continue the downward flush. The only ‘floater’ to pop back up is Gannett–because of the sale of poor performing newspapers

The downturn in the newspaper industry is getting worse. Come to think of it, why would it spring back? They are still run by the PC editorial elite, not managers. Except for News Corp. and Gannett, which are run by real executives.

Here are some stats collected by the Wall Street Journal on the eve of their premium buyout by News Corp.

Last fall, newspaper executives and analysts were caught by surprise by the severity of a slump that took hold last summer. Since the beginning of this year, the rate of decline in advertising revenue has accelerated. Total print and online ad revenue was down 4.8% to $10.6 billion in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to the Newspaper Association of America, compared with its full-year decline in 2006 of 0.3%. Actually they should be unscrewing the Cooks sparkling wine for that.

• The Bad News: The rate of decline in newspaper advertising revenue has accelerated since the beginning of the year.
• The Background: Competition from the Internet and other media has transformed the market. In addition, real-estate classifieds have plunged along with the property market.
• What’s Next: The decline, which has sent newspaper stocks into a clockwise spin down the toilet, has prompted restructuring and consolidation, and has affected Dow Jones’s talks with News Corp. and the auction of Tribune Co.
Publishers have reported sharply lower ad revenue for April and May. The depth of the downturn is expected to become clearer as many companies report second-quarter earnings in coming days. Gannett Co. plans to report later today, and Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and McClatchy Co. tomorrow.

In the first quarter, revenue for every major ad category — classified, national and retail advertising — was down. The sharpest declines were for classifieds, where spending dropped 13.2% — not so much a result of competition from the Web as of economic woes affecting certain categories of advertisers. Real-estate classifieds, until recently a bright spot for the industry, have plunged along with the property market. Auto and employment classifieds are also sinking. Financial-news outlets such as the Journal are being hurt by a slump in technology advertising.

“Right now, you’ve got a perfect storm,” says Edward Atorino, an analyst with financial broker Benchmark Co. He predicts total ad revenue will fall 4.3% this year. The decline will be one of the steepest in history. See what I mean, a .3% drop will be looked at with fond memories.

Yet, the editorial executives continue to court Democrats, and denounce American corporations and have no clue how to manage a sandwich shop, let alone an expensive newspaper.

Oops there go 86 more Gannett employees, kerplop!

Mick Gregory

The Honolulu Advertiser, the biggest newspaper on The Islands and the most honest masthead in the U.S., is offering “enhanced” retirement packages to 86 workers in an effort to reduce its staffing. The Gannett Co. has been cutting staff everywhere below the radar. But when the numbers approach triple digits at one paper, it gets noticed.

In a letter to employees Thursday, publisher Mike Fisch said the company wants to reduce its workforce “to adjust our operating plans to meet the new market realities.”

Fisch said the company is asking employees 55 and older with up to 20 years of service to consider the retirement offer, which is being made to both union members and non-members.

This smells of targeting older employees. Age discrimination anyone? Is there a lawyer in the building?

He did not specify the details of what he described as an “attractive benefits package.”

It’s something like, if you don’t take this, you aren’t going to like it here, why can’t you take a hint?

“We’ve also seen a softening of the Hawaii economy over the past eight months and we believe it is prudent to adjust our staffing as we have other expense elements to provide is the flexibility we need to operate our business successfully,” Fisch said in the letter.

Fisch said no department will be “significantly impacted” by the workforce reduction, which he described as voluntary. Voluntary is an important word; if it weren’t the layed off could come back and say they signed the “payoff” under pressure.