Archive for the ‘McClatchy’ Category

McClatchy continues to sink

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

McClatchy posted 4th quarter earnings with a 43 percent drop in revenue Tuesday and its stock price followed, dropping 12 percent to less than $4.50 a share.

The publisher also “warned that ad spending appears to be falling at an even quicker pace than before,” the Associated Press said. Ad revenue dropped 10 percent in January from the same month a year ago, following a 7 percent decline for the fourth quarter and a 6 percent decline in the third.

“Although McClatchy’s digital ad revenue climbed 5 percent in the fourth quarter, it was not enough to offset a 9 percent decline on the print side,” the AP said.

“Meanwhile, revenue from newsstand sales and subscriptions fell 3 percent. That made for an overall decline of 6 percent to $370 million from $393 million.”

The Tampa Bay Business Journal’s report quotes McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt as saying, “Overall, we made good progress in 2010. We held costs down and saw advertising revenue trends improve. As a result, we grew operating cash flow. We also strengthened our financial position by refinancing and reducing debt.”

Also on Tuesday, McClatchy’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram announced that it was cutting 22 positions, which matches moves by several of the chain’s papers since the start of the year.

McClatchy layoffs continue

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

The McClatchy Co. is announcing more of its ongoing layoffs at several papers this week, including 32 jobs cut at the Sacramento Bee, 20 at the Charlotte Observer and 20 at the Kansas City Star.

The firm’s News & Observer in Raleigh announced last week that 20 positions would be cut, and the Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., announced the loss of six positions.

The papers are also requiring unpaid one-week furloughs for most employees.

McClatchy is to announce 4th quarter 2010 earnings next Tuesday.

E-mail info request for ‘better journalism’

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Update: Scott Hepburn, a Charlotte-based PR consultant, social media strategist, trainer and public speaker, explains in his Media Emerging blog why the Charlotte Observer’s grab of private citizens’ e-mail addresses is wrong.

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Charlotte Observer Editor Rick Thames is defending the newspaper’s collection of what WFAE FM says is more than 20,000 e-mail addresses from Charlotte-Mecklenburg County.

“I’m using them to build better journalism,”  Thames told the radio station. “I think it’s good for the community, but I don’t see it as (benefiting the paper) anymore than it is for people in real estate to have records of home sales. Do you?”

People registered with the city/county website got an e-mail this week explaining that the newspaper had requested the e-mail list and that, because of the state’s open records law, the local government had to provide the names. The request came from the newspaper’s director of strategic products and audience development.

Thames says they want to ask people “if they would like to occasionally advise us on how we’re reporting and what they would like to know more from their government and more about their community.”

Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett calls the request “a blatant misuse of the ‘right-to-know’ laws by a for-profit company that is looking to expand its readership.”

(We were clued in to WFAE’s work on this by @McClatchyWatch.)

News & Observer to drop 20 positions

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The News & Observer is cutting 20 positions, explaining that “the slowly recovering economy continues to hurt ad sales.”

Most N&O staff members will also be required to take five days of unpaid time off by April 18.

The losses at the Raleigh McClatchy paper are to be “across its operations,” and will include about five in the newsroom. A copy desk supervisor in Sports has announced he’ll leave, and movie/pop culture critic Craig D. Lindsey has been let go. An assigning editor is leaving (it’s not been announced publicly, yet) and the positions of a rank-and-file copy editor in the Raleigh office – the Charlotte and Raleigh copy desks are one – and a reporter will be eliminated. If volunteers don’t step forward, seniority will dictate who goes.

How long, we have to wonder, does The N&O’s advertising department fail to meet revenue goals before the paper’s publisher quits blaming the economy and realizes it’s the people running the show – management – who aren’t getting the job done.

Publisher Orage Quarles III could talk to anyone who no longer works for his advertising department, no longer fears reprisal, and they could tell him how  productivity is stifled and morale is quashed by a management style that relies on threats, insults and verbal abuse.

Simple Prescience

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

The Huffington Post sees into McClatchy’s future in North Carolina:

The Charlotte News & Observer notes a rather significant point of contention regarding Brown’s connection of HIV/AIDS victims to the gay community.”

Market analyst: newspapers going down

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Don’t let recent good news from newspaper publishers fool you, the stock market analysis website Seeking Alpha warns. The industry is dying.

The site keys on the relatively rosy picture pushed by McClatchy last month, saying “publishers across the board got a big boost when The McClatchy Company announced that its advertising revenue rose during the fourth quarter. What’s more, CEO Gary Pruitt said he expects these improvements to continue this year.

“As the third-largest newspaper publishing company in the United States, McClatchy’s news caused some bullish activity in the industry. But the fact remains that we’re talking about newspapers here. So even though McClatchy publishes more than 70 of them – including The Miami Herald and The Charlotte Observer – they’re still just … well, newspapers.”

And, in fact, since the first of the year, McClatchy’s Kansas City Star has announced layoffs, while at  The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., buyouts have been mentioned by management amid rumors of furloughs and layoffs. At Gannett, one-week furloughs in the first quarter are already policy at most of its papers, while some of its papers in New Jersey face much more drastic measures.

Elsewhere, the Washington Post said this week it returned to profitability in 2010 and expected to remain profitable in 2011.

Seeking Alpha leads the reader through the familiar decline of newspapers, concluding that “a daily paper simply can’t compete with the up-to-the-second Internet in terms of news. Plus, there’s the added incentive that the Internet is free, leaving publishers scrambling to find a way to successfully monetize their online product.”

Online advertising revenue presents a glimmer of hope,  including a 13.9 percent gain in the second quarter of 2010 – the first quarterly gain since 2008, and a rise in McClatchy’s online revenue for the quarter that boosted its stock price.

“But even if this trend continues, it’s still not enough to combat the rapid decline of printed ad revenue,” Seeking Alpha says. “The numbers have been in a freefall for 14 consecutive quarters … with no end in sight.

“The bottom line is that newspaper publishers are going down. They won’t all bite the dust, of course. But it will take a few more years of closings, mergers and tinkering with online advertising before the real winners emerge. So don’t let McClatchy’s bounce fool you – this is one industry to dodge.”

Newspapers cut fewer jobs in 2010

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Paper Cuts, the site that tracks newspaper layoffs, reported far fewer jobs lost at the nation’s papers in 2010 compared to the two previous years, says Fishbowl L.A. Of course, there are far fewer jobs left to be cut.

The industry shed some 2,800 jobs this year –  layoffs and buyouts the site tracks of newspaper personnel “from editor to ad rep, reporter to marketing, copy editor to pressman, design to carrier, and anyone else who works for a newspaper” – compared to about 15,000 in 2009 and 16,000 in 2008. The total does not count jobs lost through attrition, i.e., left unfilled after someone leaves voluntarily.

“But it’s also become more obvious that many papers are laying off employees and never publicly acknowledging it,” Paper Cuts’ Erica Smith told FBLA. “Even with many of those numbers filled in, though, I don’t think the total will hit 2008 or 2009 levels.”

The Paper Cuts site has Google Maps mash-ups that show job cuts at individual papers dating to 2007, including  2010 job cuts at The News & Observer in Raleigh (21; owned by McClatchy), The Winston-Salem Journal  (“unknown”; Media General), the Asheville Citizen-Times (4; Gannett),  the Star News in Wilmington (2; New York Times), NASCAR Scene in Charlotte (18; Advance Publications), the Independent-Tribune of Concord-Kannapolis (“unknown”; Media General), The Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. (7; McClatchy), The State of Columbia, S.C. (12; McClatchy), The Greenville (S.C.) News (7; Gannett), and The Morning News of Florence, S.C. (“unknown”; Media General).

McClatchy shines in latest revenue report

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Not only has McClatchy stock gained nearly $1 since CEO Gary Pruitt made his presentation to investors and analysts Wednesday morning at the annual UBS Global Media Conference in New York, Pruitt says classified advertising revenue is leading the way in the firm’s improving 2010 ad revenue picture.

It’s a Bizarro world.

As Poynter’s Rick Edmonds points out, the death of classified advertising is pretty much  “a consensus truism about the decline of the newspaper industry.” But McClatchy says not only that classifieds are leading its improving outlook, but among classifieds, employment advertising is up 2.1 percent since first turning positive in May.

It’s all a part of the continuing “less-bad is good” scenario. Here’s the score, directly from McClatchy’s news release: “Advertising revenues were down 5.8 percent in October and November 2010 combined, compared to declines of 6.4 percent in the third quarter, 8.2 percent in the second quarter and 11.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Year-to-date advertising revenues through November 2010 were down 8 percent. Total revenues for October and November 2010 combined were down 5.1 percent and were down 6.2 percent year-to-date through November 2010.”

But the stock is soaring, says The Street, based on Pruitt’s optimistic outlook. “We have seen improvement in revenues in every quarter of 2010 and that has continued into the fourth quarter,” Pruitt said in his presentation. “Looking forward to 2011, we expect advertising revenues to continue to improve.”

Edmonds reports that Pruitt said classifieds are recovering faster than other segments of the company’s advertising base and should be a healthy business for years to come.

More than half of McClatchy’s employment classifed income is now from the digital version, and rates for online classifieds, which have always lagged print, are pulling even with print, and may pass them in another year or two, according to Pruitt, again with employment ads taking the lead.

Edmonds also points out that McClatchy derives revenue from part-ownership in such online classifieds sites as CareerBuilder, Classified Ventures and  Homefinder. McClatchy announced that Classified Ventures, which includes cars.com and apartments.com, will pay McClatchy a special dividend of $20 to $25 million by the end of the year.

“McClatchy, like most of the newspaper companies presenting this week, is operating profitably and using a big share of those earnings to pay down debt,” Edmonds concludes [The publisher will have $1.775 billion of outstanding debt and “a very manageable maturity schedule” at the end of its fiscal year, Pat Talamantes, McClatchy’s chief financial officer, said.]. “And like the other companies, it is not making any promises that revenues, currently declining about 5 percent year-to-year, will grow in 2011.

“’I can’t tell you when we will go positive,’ Pruitt told a questioner, ‘but we think that we will.’”

A win for newspapers in Kansas City

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Bottom Line Communications, which follows media and marketing issue in the Kansas City area, says a local supermarket chain that left the Kansas City Star for direct mail marketing is taking its advertising back to the newspaper.

The chain, Hen House, has 29 stores in the area.

The KC Star is a McClatchy newspaper, and we saw this first at McClatchy Watch.

Print revenue losses swamping newspapers

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

AP business writer Andrew Vanacore takes a look at the 3Q earnings reports from McClatchy, New York Times and others, and says things don’t look good for the industry.

“[P]ublishers still haven’t been able to reverse a slump in sales more than three years after it began” and they are not “able to draw enough new business from … digital operations to make up for the losses in print,” he writes.

“The outlook entering the holiday season isn’t much better.”

The NYT and McClatchy saw worse declines in September than a year before despite less-bad year-to-year numbers for the prior two months.

“On a conference call with analysts, McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt had to fend off repeated attempts to get a more detailed picture of where things stand going into the holidays.

“‘We intentionally did not release any results for October or speak to them because we don’t think they are meaningful at this time, and we lack visibility as we look forward into the fourth quarter,’ he said.”