Contrary to disingenuous happy talk from industry leaders, the third quarter brought absolutely no relief to the relentless dive in newspaper advertising, as total sales fell $2.5 billion to bring the year-to-date decline to nearly $7.9 billion.
With three months to go in the worst year ever for newspapers, the drop in sales in the first three quarters of 2009 is roughly equal to the combined revenues for the last 12 months of Gannett and McClatchy Co. In other words, it’s as though two of the largest publicly owned publishers in the land just fell off the face of the earth.
Sales plunged deeply in every category in the third quarter, according to statistics posted last week by the Newspaper Association of America, the industry-funded trade group...
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Still Cooking the Books (Recovering Journalist)
As I've written before, the ability of newspaper circulation departments and publishers to spin good news from bad by deftly manipulating dodgy circulation numbers knows no bounds.
And as things get ever more desperate in the newspaper business, the number cookers are getting ever more creative.
Witness this report from Michael Liedtke of the AP (oh, is he ever going to be unpopular with his wire service's members, and extra credit: that link goes to a Google News page!) about the latest example of creative accounting:
double-counting readers of electronic editions who also happen to pay for the print copy.
This turns out to be perfectly legal under the Audit Bureau of Circulations' conveniently flexible rules, even though it inflates circulation numbers.
Wait until the 4th quarter numbers come out. If numbers do not lie but liars lie with numbers, we should see some really creative bookkeeping in a few weeks. Buckle your seatbelts!!!!!!!!
I always wondered where all of the Enron accounting staff that did not go to jail ended up.
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