All errors should be reported to

Saturday, July 22, 2017

You made $37.4 million more than McClatchy

The headlines in February showed a feisty newspaper industry that was winning its war with the president and the 62 million patriotic Americans who elected him.

From the Financial Times: "Newspapers welcome more digital subscribers in time of Fake News."


From Poynter: "Gannett and McClatchy made digital gains at the end of 2016."


From that Financial Times report:
The press has been both punching bag and beneficiary in the age of Trump: the NYT alone added a record 267,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter, most of them after Mr Trump was elected. Mr Thompson used the gains to hit back at the president’s claims that the newspaper is “failing” and is a purveyor of “fake news”. Following Mr Trump’s tweet that NYT subscribers were “dwindling”, he retorted in a conference call on the company’s financial results earlier this month: “Well, not so much, Mr President.”
As the newspaper industry battles with Mr Trump, it also faces challenges to its twin pillars of advertising and circulation revenues. Publishers must weather the print drop-off, compete in a digital market dominated by Facebook and Google, and turn recent readership bumps into sustainable growth in circulation revenue.
Both Gannett and McClatchy showed healthy growth in digital advertising. Subcategories like mobile and video are way up (though on a small dollar base). And rates are leveling or rising as the companies deliver more products and better targeting.
Progress on paid digital subscriptions is painstaking. Gannett now has 182,000 through USA Today and its network of 109 local properties. That's a 70 percent gain from a year ago. McClatchy has 82,000.
Ah spunky.
Lou Grant: You know what, you've got spunk!
Mary Richards: Well, yes...
Lou Grant: I hate spunk! 
Of course he does. Spunky doesn't pay the bills.

The New York Times’s buyout of 100 employees belies its insistence that it’s not a failing enterprise.

The dead tree industry is dying.

And the jump to online is at least a decade too late.

McClatchy quarterly results and forecast show more stormy weather ahead for newspaper organizations
As expected, McClatchy today reported some encouraging gains in several of its digital businesses but a big second quarter loss – $37.4 million on revenues of $225 million.
The report also included an ominous forecast with implications for the rest of the industry – deep print advertising losses are not expected to ease in the second half of this year.
For McClatchy in the quarter, print advertising was off 15.6 percent compared the same period in 2016. That was helped by including results of a stable direct marketing business, which constitutes nearly a third of the total.
Major print categories were down by a bigger percentage – retail (-22 percent), national (-31 percent) and classified (-14.5 percent). McClatchy is the first of the publicly traded news companies to report, so I would look for more of the same as others deliver their quarterly results in coming weeks.
The big loss was attributable to a non-cash "impairment charge" of $46 million, marking down McClatchy's stake in the industry's digital job site CareerBuilder. It also incurred $20 million in interest expense on its debt for the quarter.
To put that in perspective, I turn to a little book I read a while ago.

From "The Art of the Comeback" by Donald J. Trump:
One day, while walking down Fifth Avenue, hand in hand with Marla, I pointed across the street to a man holding a cup and with a Seeing Eye dog. I asked, "Do you know who that is?"
Marla said to me: "Yes, Donald. He's a beggar. Isn't it too bad? He looks so sad!"
I said, "You're right. He's a beggar, but he's worth about $900 million more than me." She looked at me and said, "What do you mean, Donald? How could he possibly be worth $900 million more than you?"
I said, "Let's assume he's worth nothing (only from the standpoint of dollars) -- I'm worth minus $900 million."
Good news, readers. You made $37 million more than McClatchy did this spring.


Just don't try to spend it.

The difference is, Trump came back from that disaster in 1995. Newspapers won't.

The crash-and-burn is expensive as newspapers pour money into an Internet they still don't understand.

The smart money got out two decades ago after Craigslist ate up their classified ads. Thomson sold off 100 or so daily newspapers.

Dumb money bought them and now grapples with its advertisers going online to advertise, or going out of business. How many Sears stores will be around next year? 

Just as CNN protests that it is not Fake News, newspapers insist they have a future.

But CNN is Fake News -- and newspapers have no future, absent a jolly billionaire (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim, for example) who is willing to underwrite the losses.

This won't last.

Caution: Readers occasionally may laugh out loud at the media as they read this account of Trump's election.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

Caution: Readers occasionally may laugh out loud at the media as they read this account of Trump's nomination.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

Autographed copies of both books are available by writing me at

Please follow me on Twitter.

Friend me on Facebook.


  1. "The crash-and-burn is expensive as newspapers pour money into an Internet they still don't understand."

    So from "crash-and-burn" to "cash-and-burn."

  2. In most cases of the print LSM I won't miss them when they breathe their last.

    1. For me, it's ALL cases. I cancelled my subscription to the local rag some years back. I go thru one when I see one, but it's mostly for the aerobic effect of turning the pages.

  3. Don, you may be amused by this, from

  4. In my hometown, we have had a community paper for at least 35 years. Free. delivered to every household in the community. Three times a week. Some international news, but mostly local. Yes their classified section is only a couple of pages now, mostly death notices and local business ads. But where they make their loot is in the local stores (Sears included) filling the paper every week with their flyers. Also the real estate sales papers (2 of them) are delivered with this paper every Friday. When the local guy who started this finally retired and sold, the paper was bought out by a group that basically specializes in these community papers. From what I understand, that company, though small compared to behemoths likr=e the Times, is sitting quite pretty.

  5. I predict they will continue to survive as they are doing now... as vanity newspapers for ultra rich guys. Zuckerberg will be an owner soon. There is a certain prestige attached to owning a paper. It's like "Old" money. CM

    1. It will be interesting to see how the Sugar Daddy business plan works out for these left-wing papers. One thing about rich people, though, is that they really hate losing money, even if it's for a "good" cause.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. [Donald Trump] said, "Let's assume he's worth nothing (only from the standpoint of dollars)"

    The difference between Pres. Trump and the Democratic nominees: Clinton and B. Sanders would not have qualified such a statement with that parenthetical phrase. Probably they wouldn't have said "Let's assume" either, they just would have said, "He's worth nothing...except a vote or two."