Cuts alone won’t sustain newspapers

The Wall Street Journal says that despite gains from cutting expenses, the prognosis for newspapers “remains troubled.”

Reporter Martin Peers ticks off the now-familiar savings moves – layoffs, pay freezes or cuts, shrunken newsprint and ink costs as advertising supports fewer pages – and says it all could work out if advertising stabilized. “But, … it is probably safer to bet that newspaper advertising will remain under long-term pressure.

“All this argues for avoiding newspaper companies with heavy debt loads, where the margin for error is still thin. That group includes McClatchy and Lee.”

Other publishers, like Gannett, E.W. Scripps and A.H. Belo, have healthier balance sheets, Peers adds.

Update: Ryan Chittum at the Columbia Journalism Review says inflation-adjusted numbers show papers are even worse off than you think.

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