Signs of hope hidden among economy’s bad news
Call it praising with faint damnation. These days, when it comes to the economy, good news seems to mean getting worse more slowly. And while a lot of publishing news is like this, hidden among the gloom are some actual signs of hope.
Although print ad revenues and circulation have fallen faster than John Edwards’ approval ratings, the circulation drop seems to be hitting a plateau. If the public is willing to drop a dime or two for a dead tree version that is dated before it gets published, aren’t they more likely to pay for the cutting-edge, most-up-to-date content you provide? Don’t all nod at once, it creates a breeze.
AdAge reports that many magazine publishers saw declines in circulation for the second half of last year, “but in most cases those declines aren't nearly as steep as the plunges that came before.”
Example: With help from titles like People and InStyle, Time Warner reported “Q4 subscription revenue was down 6% and ad sales were down 12%. Not stellar, but better than Q3, when they were down 13% and 22%, respectively,” according to the WSJ’s All Things Digital blog.
OK, so it isn’t time to break out the Champale™ but you might consider a nice domestic soda water.
There also are some fascinating developments in advertising as well. While most classified sales are as dead as the Cubs’ playoff hopes every September, there is one glaring exception. According to Poynter’s Rick Edmonds, holding its own is the category of “other,” which consists of quintessential hyper-local content: paid wedding and obituary notices, births, garage sales and the like.
Edmonds speculates on one possible reason: “Some buyers and sellers are not wild about the cheesy environs of Craigslist, with its reputation for being a marketplace for escorts.” This suggests an opening for a version of Craigs that is just as local but less tawdry.
Perhaps there’s hope for the Cubs after all.