Last week, Seattle Post was the latest US paper to stop its print edition. Apparently, 147 staff will be laid off, and 20 staff will remain to take care of the online edition.
British papers don't seem to be doing much better: UK newspaper advertising revenues are down 15-55 % yoy, depending on the segment. The Daily Mail Group alone is now cutting 1,000 jobs.
German papers are also hit by vanishing ad revenues: The WAZ Group announced plans to cut staff by 1/3 late last year, and Sueddeutsche also appears to be contemplating substantial staff cuts, though no announcements have been made.
The question is: How much of the current drop in ad revenue is caused by the economic crisis (ad revenues have always been highly cyclical), and how much is a fundamental problem due to the migration of readers to the internet? (considering that circulation is also down for most papers, and circulation isn't particularly cyclical)
It always struck me as terribly inefficient that Saturday papers used to weigh half a pound because of all those job, real estate and car ads: 90 % of readers didn't care about those ads, because the weren't looking for a job, house or car. So the migration of these ads to the internet saves a lot of paper and ink, not to mention delivery boy back aches.
I don't know how much of a newspapers' operating expense goes to pay the journalists' salaries, and how much is needed to print and deliver the paper itself. Can internet ad revenue cover the salaries, even if print papers disappear? I have no idea.
Personally, I get most of my news from various online sources. But I still like to read a print paper (or print magazines such as The Economist). It's so much more pleasant to sit down in a comfy chair or lean over a paper for breakfast. But I must admit that I don't have a print subscription: During the week, I get the papers for free in the office, and on the week-end, I somtimes buy a copy, and sometimes don't. If my company didn't offer a paper, I probably wouldn't take out a private subscription.