Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Broker: Small- to Mid-Circ Papers at, or Nearing, Economic Bottom

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Broker: Small- to Mid-Circ Papers at, or Nearing, Economic Bottom

Article excerpt

As a group, smaller newspapers were the last to be brought down by the Great Recession, and now a report from a brokerage firm specializing in community papers suggests they may be the first to find the bottom to the industry's misery.

"The industry may not have hit the bottom in revenue decline, but it appears it may be getting close," says the current issue of the Cribb, Greene & Associates newsletter.

Bozeman, Mont.-based Cribb Greene surveyed dozens of owners or top executives of mid-sized and small newspapers and shoppers in May, and went back to them in July, asking if conditions had improved or worsened.

"Most say revenues are down 10%-15%, and are making expense cuts to compensate," the report says. "EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) margins can still be in the 15%-25% range, although 5%-15% is closer to the norm. ... Certainly, these are ugly numbers compared to what newspapers are used to, but they are not disastrous."

The report includes verbatim responses from some of the newspapers that, taken as a whole, suggest the faintest optimism mixed with fear that things could get worse. …

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