By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A double whammy for the newspaper business

In my latest for the Guardian, I argue that the long-predicted newspaper-circulation death spiral now under way wouldn’t be such a big deal if online advertisers weren’t fleeing newspaper Web sites as well.

On a cheerier note, Jonathan Knee writes in Barron’s that recession and crushing debt are masking the fundamental soundness of many newspapers — especially monopoly papers with a circulation of 100,000 or less.


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  1. lkcape

    Crushing debt has been the core problem all along. It should be no surprise.

    Declining advertising revenues and circulation are certainly contributory, but borrowed money is the killer.

    When debt service becomes the all-consuming element of the yearly expenses, few businesses can survive, good or bad.

    Now, translate that same axiom to the nation’s and you might see some striking parallels.

  2. Al

    Dan: As I’m composing this, I’m also looking at the Boston Globe website,, and I’m hard pressed to find anything I’d call advertising other than an ad for AppleVacations on the home page. I almost forgot, had an ad for itself.

    Where are the ads similar to the print edition? If they’re not there, then maybe the advertisers think the eyes are not there to warrant spending the money. Also, what are the comparative costs of print vs online ads?

    As for myself, I read online articles in multiple newspaper sites here and around the country on a daily basis. I also subscribe to and read the print edition of the Globe daily. When I read something online, all I see is the article I’m interested in, I don’t notice ads, at all, and may only be there for a few minutes. When I read the paper delivered to my home, I may spend an hour reading it, and may pick it up again later in the day so I have multiple potential ‘views’ of its advertising. Also, other family members may pick it up and see those ads, as well. In addition, when I’m reading an article, ads may be in my field of vision on that page or its facing page, so the potential for an ad to be seen is greater in print than online. As I understand it, GlobeReader offers a printlike experience. Does this extend to running the print ads online as well?

    Those of us who follow blogs such as Media Nation, are news junkies who read stories online and in print. Unfortunately, there are too many who read no news and only get informed by radio or TV. I wonder how many of those people can be counted among the drop in newspaper circulation.

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