Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Mix Newspapers + Digital + Metered Paywalls and Shake Well! – Hot Mixture or Not?

Newspapers have danced with ups and downs in the past few years. But, as I have posted on periodically in the past, this segment of publishing was one of the first to analyze its options in the new tech environment, embrace change, initiate appropriate training and launch new business models that have included digital and associated mobiles, etc.

This brought about a big learning curve (that is still active) – but, what has shaken out thus far looks promising and has resulted in positive growth in digital circulation and stopped the bleeding in print circulation and even turned print around a little.

Now, let’s drill down and get into some numbers provided by AAM (Alliance of Audited Media) that will tell us for sure if the ‘newspapers + digital + metered paywalls’ mix is a hot mixture or not.

Matthew Flamm reports on the semi-annual newspaper AAM numbers for Crain’s New York Business:


New York Times overtakes USA Today as No. 2

The Grey Lady gains 18% in circulation in the past year as metered paywall pays off. The Wall Street Journal jumps 12% in the much-anticipated semi-annual industry audit.

The New York Times has moved into the No. 2 spot in newspaper circulation, ahead of USA Today, as the addition of more than 300,000 digital subscriptions gave the paper an average weekday circulation of 1.9 million print and digital copies in the six months ending March 31.

The number marked a nearly 18% circulation gain compared to a year ago, with digital gaining enough to more than offset print losses, according to the Alliance of Audited Media, which released its semi-annual newspaper survey on Tuesday.

The alliance includes in its digital count subscriptions to the online paper distributed to tablets, iPhones and through its website. 

The Wall Street Journal, in first place, was up 12% in combined weekday circulation, to 2.4 million print and digital copies. Both papers relied on digital circulation for growth. The Journal‘s print edition fell 5% to 1.5 million copies, while the Times‘ slid 6% to 731,000. 

USA Today dropped 8%, to 1.7 million copies, of which only 250,000 were digital.

On Sundays, the Times remains the clear No. 1, with total circulation of 2.3 million copies, up 16% from a year ago. Its print edition slid less than 1% to 1.25 million copies.

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Investing in News Media Publishing has been a Sucker’s Game…EXCEPT for…

By now, most have heard that HuffPost was sold to AOL for 315 million! God bless Arianna Huffington and her success…She is the first to score BIG money from any kind of a media investment in six years…But, she worked hard, was hands-on and sharp on surrounding herself with knowledgeable, intelligent people. (There is a little confusion on just how much of the money Arianna received. Forbes mag discusses).

Aaron Elstein,  of Crain’s New York Business, details a little history of past and present media investors…including Rupert Murdoch (WSJ), Warren Buffet (Wash. Post), Philip Falcone (NY Times) among others…and their successes and failures. Two of the three high rollers I just mentioned are in the media investment losers’ column (two are definitely investment losers and Murdoch is struggling).

This is an interesting, insightful and revealing article: 

HuffPo’s profits are rare these days

by Aaron Elstein

Back in the spring of 1995, renowned money manager Mario Gabelli bought a 6% stake in publisher Pulitzer Inc., owner the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other newspapers. Over the following years, Mr. Gabelli added shares until he owned 40% of the company.

In early 2005, Mr. Gabelli scored big when Pulitzer agreed to be acquired by rival Lee Enterprises for $1.5 billion. The investor’s stake by then was worth no less than $600 million.

This almost-forgotten deal wouldn’t be worth recalling except for this fact: It was the last fortune made by an outside investor in the news business. Until Arianna Huffington and her partners scored earlier this week with the $315 million sale of her website to AOL, that is.

Mind you, when reviewing big investor scores in media-land, I’ve disregarded the Bancroft family, which owned Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal for over a century until Rupert Murdoch blew them away in 2007 with a $5 billion bid. The Bancrofts inherited their stakes and were such passive owners that it seems more fair to call them “dividend collectors” than investors.

For nearly everyone else, investing in news media has been a sucker’s game for years.

One of the biggest losers is Warren Buffett, the Washington Post Co.’s biggest stockholder, who has seen his stake fall by more than half over the past six years, to about $800 million. (He plans to leave the company’s board soon.)

Philip Falcone’s investment in the New York Times Co. has been a tremendous bust. Starting in 2007, the hedge fund manager began acquiring what eventually became about 20% of the Times’ stock. But the stock has sunk, and Mr. Falcone’s stake has shrunk to 2.6% as he’s unwound his position: Last November, Mr. Falcone sold 7 million shares for less than half the price he paid for his original investment, according to a regulatory filing.

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US Newspaper Publishing Industry Includes About 2,000 Companies and Combined Annual Revenue of $50 Bil

Filed under: newspaper industry profits,newspaper publishing,newspapers — gator1965 @ 9:15 am

Good Golly Miss Molly! (that was a good song!)…The newspaper publishing industry is a bigger business than I realized…Truthfully, I never really thought about it before; and that’s why I think the following press release, culled from the TradingMarkets dot com site, detailing the statiatics, will be of interest to all non-experts:

The US newspaper publishing industry includes about 2,000 companies with combined annual revenue of $50 billion. Large companies include Gannett, McClatchy, Advance Publications, Tribune Company, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. The industry is highly concentrated: the top 50 companies control almost 80 percent of the market. Many of the larger companies also own and operate TV stations.

A few newspapers, including the The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The New York Times, have daily circulation greater than 1 million, but most have circulation under 50,000. The combined daily circulation of US newspapers is just under 55 million.


The health of the economy drives both advertising and readership. The profitability of individual companies depends on marketing expertise, as most costs are fixed. Large companies benefit from economies of scale in sharing resources and by providing a range of outlets for advertisers. Small publishers can compete successfully by serving smaller markets. The industry is fairly labor-intensive: average annual revenue per employee is about $120,000.


Products include daily, weekly, monthly, and Sunday newspapers; Internet news services; and distribution services. Large circulation newspapers are usually produced daily; community newspapers are usually produced weekly. Almost 70 percent of industry revenue comes from sales of advertising space (“advertising revenue”), and only about 20 percent from subscription and single-copy sales (“circulation revenue”).

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