Yes, It Really Is This Bad in the Newspaper Biz

The latest crash scene is the earnings release from the Sun-Times Media Group, which owns the Chicago Sun Times as well as a number of smaller media properties in Illinois and Indiana.  SUTM reported an operating loss of $50 million for the first half of 2008 quarter–on revenue of $164 million.   Advertising revenue was down 14 percent; circulation revenue down 4 percent.  The loss at the EBITDA level looks to be more like $17 million.

Worse still is the letter to shareholders accompanying the release, which confirms that if there is a way out of the mess that is the newspaper biz, this is not the team that’s going to find it.  Which is why a company with $115million in cash and no debt has a market cap of $22 million.  Times are even harder at the Journal Register Company, which is about to experience what it’s like to work for the some of Jamie Dimon’s more humorless employees.

Makes me think of my friend’s line that the fate of the newspapers is the biggest to-the-cleaners-taking since a guy named Bill Gates convinced IBM that real men didn’t do software, except that its happened at something like 5x the speed. 

Boy, could newspaper land use their version of Lou Gerstner.


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