As soon as newspapers stop laying off staff and cutting costs, we’ll stop writing about what appears to be the interminable decline of the printed press. Staff at News International and Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) today both learned of proposed editorial redundancies — and when relatively profitable groups like NI are making large savings, you know it’s down to more than just a cyclical downturn in print advertising, as is often claimed by industry chiefs.
Though the downturn obviously isn’t helping matters, sending advertising budgets and related consumer spending further south, these cuts can be seen as a permanent shrinkage of print revenue and of the newspaper industry. And unless the industry finds durable, innovative and scaleable ways to monetise its online products, you can expect leaner, necessarily more efficient newspapers across the country at all levels.
– News International: News Corp (NYSE: NWS) chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch promised “leaner operations” at his Australian and UK newspapers in the company’s last earnings call, and here they are. News International is set to make a number of editorial cuts across its four titles, The Sun, News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times, affecting between 100 and 200 journalists, according to Guardian.co.uk, citing sources. Boston Consulting Group completed its efficiency review of the business last year and recommended a series of cuts and restructuring drives. Rates for agency and freelance staff have also been lowered across the titles. Via Guardian.co.uk.
– The People: Trinity Mirror’s troubled Sunday red-top is considering making six redundancies, including journalists, photographers and production staff, in a restructuring move that would leaving the title with no full-time staff photographers. Trinity is in consultation with its recognised staff union British Association of Journalists. Trinity said in a statement that the paper “continues to make significant contribution” to the company and that it has invested extra money in marketing the title this year, but the paper’s circulation keeps falling and stood at 592,000 in December according to ABC, a 13 percent drop year on year. From Guardian.co.uk.
– Metro International: Free newspapers are succumbing to the downturn too: global freesheet publisher Metro International has ceased publishing in Spain despite previously being the fifth biggest newspaper company there with 1.8 million daily readers in seven cities. Metro Spain launched in 2001 and the business was making a profit by 2004 but “with increased competition and a steadily declining advertising market” it was recently making “unsustainable losses”. Metro has spent