Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Down & out in Newspaperland

If you've invested money in the newspaper business, you probably already know this, more or less.

Reports Newsosaur:

"...newspaper shares have lost nearly $4 billion in the last couple weeks, an amount greater than the combined market capitalization of all but the three largest publicly traded publishing companies.

The $3.9 billion plunge in the value of newspaper stocks since the first of this month – a period marked by successive new lows in the prices of several issues – has dropped the collective value of the following publishers to just $3.6 billion..."

Those companies are Belo (Dallas Morning News), Gatehouse Media, Journal Communications, Journal Register, Lee Enterprises, Media General, McClatchy (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), New York Times, Scripps, Sun-Times Media Group.

The first commenter to Newsosaur's post put it in perspective:

"Thank you for a clear-eyed tally sheet of the consequences of one of the greatest cases of complacency and mismanagement in U.S. history. You should have included Google and Yahoo, since the value of these once prosperous newspaper stocks has effectively been transferred to these new companies. Not since IBM gave away software rights to Microsoft has a corporate pocket been picked so efficiently. I still cannot believe that newspaper companies spent all that money to have reporters collect information that corporate executives then just gave away for free."
(bold-face emphasis added by me.)

The commenter poses a simple question: why buy it when you can get it for free electronically?

OK, if you don't have a computer you do. Or if you don't like reading it on a screen. Beyond that, I don't know.

(In case local readers were wondering about Hearst, owner of the Houston daily, it's a privately held company whose shares are not publicly traded, so observers don't know the full extent of its newspaper-related financial straits. However, Hairballs, the blog written by Rich Connelly of The Houston Press, reports another round of major layoffs may be comin' round the bend at the big daily.)

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