I’m sure you’re aware of the large number of U.S. newspapers which have greatly diminished their page numbers, reduced the number of publishing days, and in some cases ceased publishing print copy altogether as they moved to the Internet. This appears to be a growing trend which will not be reversed any time soon.
Experts predict this unfortunate down-sizing, or right-sizing as some say, will soon spread to all aspects of the media market. In fact, it’s already happening. Across the country, advertising and profits at TV stations are rapidly shrinking and therefore many longtime news anchors are being squeezed out. Major markets such as Boston, Chicago, New York, Denver and Phoenix have lost news anchors who have been there for decades. These seasoned veterans are being replaced by cheaper, younger talent.
According to the Radio Television News Directors Association, about 1,200 people in TV news lost their jobs last year. This figure, approximately 4.3 percent of the total workforce, has led to staffs that are increasingly stretched thin. Even as more layoffs loom, stations are turning to low-cost news programs to fill in holes in their schedule that used to be filled by syndicated shows.
The situation in cable is slightly different, as channel revenue comes from affiliate fees in addition to advertising. However, there have been layoffs there too. Earlier this month, it was reported that TruTV was planning to axe half of its staff in New York City, and even CNBC has had job cuts.
It’s not just newspapers and TV feeling the crunch … several major magazines are also concerned about their future. One of the “Big Three” U.S. business magazines is apparently up for sale. Eighty-year-old BusinessWeek was founded in 1929, has an editorial staff of approximately 190 and has about 4.8 million readers in 140 countries. The weekly magazine suffered a 30% decline in second-quarter ad sales, compared with a 22% drop industry wide.
Some predict that the classic “Big Three” may be reduced to the “Big One” if the economy doesn’t improve soon. BusinessWeek‘s two major competitors, Fortune and Forbes, are currently evaluating options as well. All three currently have an Internet presence as do other competitors such as Fast Company, Inc., Harvard Business Review, Business 2.0 and others.
These are the best of times and the worst of times to be a business magazine. That same thought can be shared by a large variety of industries today. The coming year is going to be very challenging for U.S. media.