Q4 was less awful for US newspapers


Revenues declined 23.73% in Q4 for US newspapers, according to data from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). Even so, that was the best quarter of 2009, with the year down 27.2% over all.

“Last year was certainly a difficult one for newspapers and other advertising-related businesses — a fact that is no surprise to anyone who lived through what many economists have appropriately termed ‘The Great Recession.’ Despite these challenges, however, unfavorable trends for newspaper ad spending continued to diminish as the fourth quarter progressed, a sign that business conditions have begun to gradually improve. The velocity of the advertising decline for print classifieds continued to moderate, and adverse trends for national advertising and newspaper Web sites lessened considerably as last year came to a close,” said NAA President and CEO John Sturm.

“The buzz we have been hearing – that ad trend improvement is continuing into the first quarter, that advertiser demand has been firming as the economy stabilizes and that publishers are feeling more confident as they look ahead into 2010 – is definitely encouraging. Meanwhile, NAA member newspapers continue to drive forward with multiplatform business models designed to meet the needs of today’s media consumer, providing a solid foundation for the future as newspapers remain true to the core values that continue to sustain their brands – high quality journalism, trusted engagement with local audiences and delivering unmatched value for advertisers,” Sturm concluded.

By the numbers, national advertising for newspapers fell 26.2% in 2009 to $4.42 billion; retail dropped 24.2% to $14.22 billion; and classified was down 38.1% to $6.18 billion. That, by the way, is only slightly ahead of classified revenues for 1983. Total print revenues were down 28.6% in 2009 to $24.82 billion. Online revenues for newspapers declined for the second year, falling 11.8% to $2.74 billion. That brought the total decline to 27.2%, with revenues at $27.56 billion. The most recent year below that mark was 1986, at $26.99 billion, back before there were any Internet revenues to add to the print total.

Q4 2009 newspaper revenues declined 23.7% to $7.68 billion. Classified was hardest hit, down 31.7% to $1.76 billion, but still the best quarter of the year. Retail fell 24.3% to $3.93 billion and national was down 19.8% to $1.22 billion. Total print revenues fell 25.6% to $6.91 billion. The bright spot was online, which fell only 1% to $770 million after double-digit percentage declines in all other quarters of 2009.