NEW YORK: As Rupert Murdoch prepares to land the ultimate newspaper prize, The Wall Street Journal and its publisher Dow Jones, others in the industry feel they are on a losing streak.

Print and online advertising revenues during the first quarter slid 4.8% year-on-year to $10.6 billion (€7.68bn; £5.17bn), according to the Newspaper Association of America.

What makes the numbers more alarming is comparison with the full-year decline in 2006 of a relatively modest 0.3%.

Q1 sales of classified ads experienced the sharpest drop of 13.2%, the result of a slowdown among traditional marketers, namely real-estate, automotive and employment.

In an attempt to stem the revenue hemorrhage, publishers are trying to generate a larger portion of ad dollars through the web.

Online ad sales across the newspaper industry increased 31.5% in 2006 to $2.7bn, but that figure represents just 5% of the $49.3bn in total newspaper ad revenue last year. During Q1 of this year, online ad revenue climbed 22.3% to $750 million.

Most publishers are suffering from the slump. Gannett, which owns 85 daily newspapers including USA Today, reports that ad revenues dropped 6.8% in May.

Meantime, the New York Times Company saw its ad sales fall 9.9% during the same month. At McClatchy, which publishes 31 dailies, ad revenue in May plunged 11.5% to $153m, while at the WSJ they were down 3.4%.

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