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New Republic's Prescription for Preserving Newspapers

Self-help for unnerved newspaper people includes feeling good about themselves, opines the New Republic:

How can newspapers recover their mojo? For starters, they should stop sounding apocalyptic. Their business is in much less of a crisis than you might imagine. The long-term decline in newspaper readership can be largely attributed to the death of the evening paper. The circulation of morning papers has actually risen by about 60 percent since 1980. And, for papers like The Washington Post that have shed print readers, Web traffic has grown at an astonishing pace. And profit margins at most papers remain high. As The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki pointed out last year, the McClatchy newspaper conglomerate, which purchased Knight Ridder last year, has healthier profit margins than, say, ExxonMobil.

Yet the issue is not profit margins, though they do matter. It is the unmistakable recent trends, which include ad revenue drops, serious circulation falls (at morning papers) and the simple fact that young people almost never buy newspapers.

The monopoly days are over, and the business model is unraveling at an accelerating rate. Newspaper business people understand this now. The New Republic should take note.

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