The Newspaper Publishing Industry

Article excerpt

Picard, Robert G. and Jeffrey H. Brody (1997). The Newspaper Publishing Industry. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 224 pp. Paperback, $18.

Picard and Brody set four goals for their book, the fourth of nine books in a series on mass communication industries: (a.) demonstrate that the pessimism that hangs over the newspaper industry is fueled by misconceptions resulting from a focus on the problems affecting the largest metropolitan newspapers; (b.) show that publishers have prospered more in monopoly situations than in competitive ones; (c.) include information on nondaily newspapers; and (d.) place the social, technological, and economic changes facing the newspaper industry in context.

The authors fully accomplish their first and fourth goals. Picard and Brody argue persuasively that newspapers generally are highly profitable and likely to remain so. Although they compete with other media for audiences and advertising, no competitor can deliver certain kinds of information or reach certain audiences as well as newspapers. Technology will alter the media industry, but Picard and Brody argue that electronic publishing systems give newspaper businesses the means to survive, even if the paper part of the newspaper does not.

The last four chapters of the book provide a highly readable and well-informed introduction to the major issues facing the newspaper industry. The chapter on editorial issues, which reviews and critiques some of the efforts to attract marginal readers and nonreaders, is particularly interesting. Each of the issues chapters focuses on the most recent developments in the area. So, the discussion on libel in the chapter on legal issues emphasizes the proposed Uniform Correction or Clarification of Defamation Act and liability for libel in cyberspace.

The authors are only partly successful in their discussion of nondaily and specialized newspapers. The first two parts of the book, which discuss the structure of the newspaper industry and newspaper operations, include some references to nondailies. For instance, the chapter describing a day in the life of a newspaper includes a section on the news cycle of a weekly. But weeklies and specialized papers disappear in the final section of the book, which reviews major issues facing the industry. …