No hope

After a hopeful post, time for the dark side. There’s so much darkness just today:

* The New York Times Company’s results are just awful: Ad revenues in the news group down 21.8%. Ad revenue for the Times down 21.2% Ad revenue for the Boston group down 23.3%. Internet advertising down 4.0%. Ad revenue for About down 3.5%. If you want to see good news, I suppose you can find it here: “In total, Internet businesses accounted for 12.1% of total revenues in November versus 10.7% in November 2007.” But that likely means that print is falling faster.

* McClatchy shares hit 60 cents yesterday. As I write this, it’s up to a big 78 cents. Bubble! Gatehouse hit 4 cents (and I’d still short them given their current attitude); market cap: $2.3 million. See Alan Mutter’s excellent analysis of how debt did in papers. I’d say it’s more than that: It was misplaced optimism in the form and in the incumbents. If these papers had instead taken on debt to innovate and create or to buy innovates (a la the New York Times buying About), that might have been productive. Instead, they bought newspapers, which was only an indication of how snug their blinders were.

* In the U.K., Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger (my boss) continues to beat the funereal drum about local papers there, telling BBC Radio 4: “I think we have to face up to the prospect that for the first time since the Enlightenment you’re going to have major cities in the UK and western democracies without any kind of verifiable source of news.” Hear him here.

* For the first time, according to Pew, the internet as surpassed newspapers as a primary source of news for the public. In the whole population, TV is still No. 1 (I suppose that’s cause for depression), but among young people, under 30, the internet has tied TV. But then again, that wouldn’t be bad news at all so long as newspapers become digital and become part of that trend rather than killed by it.