Newspapers fight back, blame recession for downturn

Several newspaper editors and owners have gotten together and launched The Newspaper Project, a site dedicated to letting the world know that the newspaper publishing business isn’t really that badly off.

The group includes Community Newspaper Holdings’ Donna Barrett, Brian Tierney, CEO of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News; Randy Siegel, President of Parade Publications, and Jay Smith, former president of Cox Newspapers.

The group argues that “While we acknowledge the challenges facing the newspaper industry in today’s rapidly changing media world, we reject the notion that newspapers—and the valuable content that newspaper journalists provide—have no future,” and that online isn’t killing newspapers “this wrongheaded perception stems from the economic recession that’s affected all advertising-based businesses, and from the myth that newspapers no longer attract the public support they once enjoyed. But the biggest contributing factor to the distorted picture of the industry’s condition just might be us”

While it’s a positive in any business that a collective forms to fight back, the group seems to be slightly delusional as well. While the recession is hurting newspapers, statistics from their own representative bodies show that the slide started well before the recession, and that the switch online, particularly in advertising is the silent killer of newspapers, not the recession alone.

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Do Newspapers have a future at all? I’ve always believed that answer is yes where others are quick to write off the sector, but only on the basis that print itself is on the way out. Newspapers as news gathering organizations have a place online, with all the attached benefits pushed by this group, such as their watchdog status with trusted brands. We’re already seeing the switch now to online only; those papers that hold out and believe this line that the recession is to blame are only guaranteeing themselves an early grave.