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Newspapers continue shift towards Internet as print business fades

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: newspapers, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) U.S. newspaper publishers are shifting their focus away from print subscribers and toward the Internet as print advertising revenue continues to fall, according to presentations made at the annual Mid-Year Media Review, hosted by the Newspaper Association of America.

"The Internet is no longer an add-on," said Reid Ashe, chief operating officer of Media General. "For many applications such as breaking news or increasingly, classified advertising, it's now our primary medium."

Media General owns three metropolitan newspapers -- including the Tampa Tribune and Richmond Times Dispatch -- 22 daily community newspapers, 23 network-affiliated television stations and more than 150 other publications, such as weekly papers. In addition to these media outlets, Media General owns 75 affiliated online enterprises.

Media General announced that it expects the profit from its print outlets to be lower in 2007 than 2006; the company's May revenues were 15% lower than its revenues from the same month last year. In contrast, it expects online revenue of $40 million for 2007, and $50 million for 2008.

Belo Chairman and CEO Robert W. Decherd announced the Dallas Morning News will reduce its distribution to within 100 miles of Dallas/Fort Worth, in order to save $9 million per year, and that it is planning other circulation cutting measures as well.

"In actively marketing our products, the emphasis should be on attracting quality subscribers rather than seeking quantity at any cost," Decherd said. "Instead of focusing on short-term performance, our goal over time is to deliver a stable audience with a demographic profile that is very attractive to advertisers -- and do so in the most cost effective way possible."

However, the Internet may not be as much of a salvation as many have thought. While newspapers' online advertising revenue continues to grow, this growth has slowed -- 20 percent this year, compared to 30 or 35 percent a few years ago. According to the media news site followthemedia.com, this growth is not fast enough to offset declining print revenue.

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