The folks at Crosscut got ahold of an in-house Seattle Times memo, and well, things aren’t looking so rosey these days over at Fairview Fanny. Print revenue is down 10.7% for January and February compared to the same two-month period last year. That’s worse than the 9% drop Times publisher Frank Blethen had been predicting, and considerably steeper than the 7% average decline for the newspaper industry last year. But the news only gets worse:
An even more ominous stat is the drop in the Times online revenue for January and February. That number was down 6.5% from the same period last year, according to Kelly’s memo.
The Times, like the rest of the newspaper industry, has been banking on the continued brisk growth of its online ad numbers to head off the well-documented drop in print advertising, as readers move to the Internet…
I’ve never been shy about airing my beefs with Blethen and his paper, but I’m not one of those bloggers who cheers the decline of the legacy media. I love the dailies, and typically browse at least a dozen a day. Indeed, I consider myself as much a media critic as a political commentator or reporter, which in itself should be understood as an act of love and respect. (You wouldn’t become a theater reviewer if you didn’t love the theater, or restaurant critic if you don’t appreciate dining.)
So let me offer a bit of free advice to Frank and the next generation of Blethens preparing to replace him: the medium is not the message. You can’t just move your content online, add a comment thread, and coast through the rest of the 21st century. If you want to thrive in this new medium pioneered by upstart bloggers like me, you need to do more than just update your technology. You need to update your content. You need to think a little more like a blogger.
Or maybe… you could just hire some of us. Really. You could benefit from a little blogger perspective (not to mention a more engaging writing style), and I could benefit from… well… a steady paycheck.
So Frank, gimme a call. Let’s work something out before I get a job offer from an industry that isn’t seeing its revenues decline ten percent year over year.