Newspaper Publishers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 4,200 newspaper publishers in the US produce and distribute news and other content in print or electronic form. Firms earn revenue primarily from selling advertising space and subscriptions. Large firms may operate as media conglomerates and publish or broadcast content across multiple platforms, including electronic media, magazines, television, or radio. Large firms may own multiple newspapers across the country; some operate internationally.

Competition for Ad Dollars

In the increasingly fragmented world of media, newspapers compete for advertising dollars with a variety of alternative sources, including TV, magazines, direct mail, radio, the Internet and billboards.

Long Decline for Traditional Print Business

The newspaper publishing industry has been in long-term decline, driven by the rise of the Internet and digital media.

Industry size & Structure

The average newspaper publisher operates out of a single location, employs 26 workers, and generates about $5-6 million annually.

    • The newspaper publishing industry consists of about 4,000 firms that employ about 105,000 workers and generate $23 billion annually.
    • The industry is concentrated; the top 50 companies account for 74% of industry revenue.
    • The industry includes national publications, market-level publications, and community newspapers.
    • Large companies include News Corporation (Wall Street Journal, New York Post), Gannett (USA Today, Detroit Free Press), Advance Publications (Star Ledger, Cleveland Plain Dealer), McClatchy Company (Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee), and the New York Times.
    • The top daily newspapers (based on circulation) include the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Post.
                                Industry Forecast
                                Newspaper Publishers Industry Growth
                                Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                Recent Developments

                                May 8, 2023 - Publisher Pessimism Increases
                                • More than half (55.4%) of respondents to a March survey by the World Organization of Newspaper Publishers said that they are pessimistic about the next 12 months. This is a significant shift from 2022, when over 80% said they were optimistic after the pandemic. Some 69% said that artificial intelligence would have the biggest impact on their business in the next two to three years. “The mood in the industry has changed, and publishers find themselves in a more unpredictable business environment due to a number of challenges, including high levels of inflation, rising paper and print costs, as well as ongoing changes to advertising markets”, the World Press Trends study notes. “The mood is somewhat more positive when publishers consider their medium-term prospects, as the level of pessimism dropped slightly (46.4%) when survey participants were asked about their outlook for the next three years,” the study added.
                                • Publishers are concerned that artificial intelligence chatbots will reduce readership, according to The New York Times. Many sites get at least half their traffic from search engines but chatbots give answers to search queries in full paragraphs rather than a list of links. Many publishers worry that far fewer people will access their sites as a result, reducing site traffic — and, by extension, revenue. “You could essentially call this the Wikipedia-ization of a lot of information,” said Bryan Goldberg, the chief executive of BDG, which publishes lifestyle and culture websites like Bustle, Nylon and Romper. “You’re bringing together Wikipedia-style answers to an infinite number of questions, and that’s just going to nuke many corners of the open web.”
                                • Microsoft's' new chatbot interface for Bing can sometimes sidestep news websites’ paywalls, according to Wired magazine. WIRED staff asked the chatbot about the best dog beds according to The New York Times product review site Wirecutter, which is behind a metered paywall. The chatbot returned Wirecutter's top three picks, with brief descriptions for each. Microsoft communications director Caitlin Roulston said that “Bing only crawls content publishers make available to us.” The search engine has access to paywalled content from publishers that have agreements with Microsoft’s news service, she says. Experts say that publishers should review their agreements with firms developing chatbots. “Unless there's a specific agreement in place, there's just really no revenue coming back to news publications,” says Danielle Coffey, of News Media Alliance.
                                • An early February 2023 meeting hosted by the Annenberg Foundation Trust provided an opportunity for some local news publishers, philanthropists, and other local news stakeholders to discuss the need to attract more funding partners and to consider the range of opportunities to fund local news innovation and sustainability across the country. Philanthropic support for journalism has grown substantially over the past decade, according to the MacArthur foundation, but charitable giving to journalism falls far short of other areas. The majority of charitable dollars raised in 2021 went to religion (27%), education (14%), human services (13%), grantmaking foundations (%) and public-society benefit (11%), according to the National Philanthropic Trust. One-fifth of Americans live in news deserts, the MacArthur Foundation reports, and nearly 1,800 communities across the US no longer have sufficient local news coverage from any source.
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