Media General revenue woes a template for what ails the newspaper biz
Tampa Tribune and WFLA-Ch. 8 owner Media General released figures on its second quarter profits, and the numbers are a disturbing, unfortunate blueprint for what is crumbling the modern newspaper model.
The headline is that Media General's publishing division unveiled second-quarter profits of $6.8-million this year. Last year's 2Q profit: $22.6-million.
Florida publishing revenue declined 24.7 percent. Classified ad revenue, the core source of profit for most newspapers, was down 29.5 percent from last year; that's $14.1-million, with most losses coming from Tampa. Where do newspapers get much of the rest of their ad revenue? Automotive ads, real estate ads and employment ads. For Media General, those revenues dipped 38.5 percent for automotive, 42.7 percent for employment and 38.9 percent for real estate ads.
The Tampa market also got blamed mostly for a $1.8-million decline in national advertising and a $3.4-million drop in retail advertising. In the face of these losses, staff reductions have saved the company 6.9 percent in salary costs and reductions in print saved 7.2 percent in newsprint expenses.
By contrast, broadcast revenues dipped just 5.7-percent to $14.9-million from last year, aided by $2.8-million in political advertising, which probably won't return next year. The company's Interactive Media Division also posted a loss of $656,000, compared to $359,000 in profit last year.
As I've written before, all the traditional revenue streams are declining at a rate far faster than savings from cuts or new platforms. Not an encouraging sign for any of us.