The Only Way is Up, Declare US Newspaper Execs

20 June 2002

Speaking at the annual assembly of publishers and investors known as the Midyear Media Review, America’s newspaper companies agreed that they were through the nadir of the adspend slump.

“The worst is behind us and we’re seeing progressively better results every month,” declared Douglas H McCorkindale, chairman/ceo of Gannett. His company’s newspaper ad revenues have improved from a 13.1% year-on-year drop in Q4 2001 to falls of just 0.2% and 0.7% in April and May respectively, though national daily USA Today is down 10% on the year to date.

Similarly, the New York Times Company reported that its eponymous flagship saw only a 2.4% slide in advertising income in May, compared with 14.1% in January.

Rises in ad revenue continue to be conspicuous by their absence, with May declines of 7.9% at the Washington Post and 7% for Knight Ridder. “[A] rebound is occurring, but slowly,” the latter’s chairman/ceo Tony Ridder declared.

Consequently, little guidance was forthcoming about the timing and strength of a recovery. Although McCorkindale expressed optimism about ad prospects in the second half of 2002, he admitted that “the path to recovery is a little uncertain”.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff