Like Finding Yourself Careering Down A Black-Diamond Trail With One Ski
To no one's surprise, just about every major metro newspaper took another body blow with release of the latest FAS-FAX circulation numbers.
The one exception: The New York Post, which for the first time is selling more copies than The Daily News, though that rather Phyrric victory comes only because it sells for a quarter in the city compared to a half-buck for the News, and Rupert Murdoch is content to underwrite losses that may run north of $40 million a year.
Still a win's a win, no matter how expensive.
You have to think that folks at such places as The Los Angeles Times (down 8 percent), Boston Globe (down 6.7 percent) and Philadelphia Inquirer (down 7.5 percent) would have liked to have any good news, regardless of its price tag right about now.
Consider their plight, despite remaining profitable albeit less so in years past. The Times is likely facing more Tribune-mandated trims, with or without Dean Baquet at the helm.
The Globe just extracted a contract from The Newspaper Guild, which largely ties pay increases to revenue.
Meanwhile, staff at the Inky and its sibling The Philadelphia Daily News took a strike vote when new owner Brian Tierney said he needs cuts and fast because cash flow fell far short of what he expected and those darn bankers want their notes paid on time.
Which is why these and other papers need publishers with a clue. The natural tempation would be to slash and burn their way out of this morass. Lower overhead might be nice, but that's often accompanied by a diminished editorial product, giving more people than ever less of a reason to pick up the paper.
Pretty soon the papers will need a tourniquet instead of a Band-Aid. But eventually they'll be no one left to stop the bleeding.