Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Don't Look Down

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Don't Look Down

Article excerpt

Newspapers are approaching 1999 with a sense of dread, fretting out loud that they can't possibly pull off a fifth consecutive year of prosperity. Last month's PaineWebber media conference in New York City seemed at moments positively funereal as one chain executive after another repeated the Three Noes of 1999, no Olympics, no elections, no Web profits. You would hardly guess that back home accountants at these newspapers were booking cash flow margins upward of 25%.

This is a good tune to remind everyone that 1998 wasn't supposed to be so hot, either Newsprint prices were going to rise again, newspaper property sales and prices were going to come back down to earth and the classified advertising franchise would begin to move to the Web Now, 1998 was not a problem-free year for the newspaper business -- but those weren't the problems that actually emerged. It's a good time to remind everyone, too, that this industry continues to benefit from the painful restructuring it endured during the early I 990s and from a general economic climate that is peculiarly favorable to newspapers. All those fundamentals remain low inflation, tots of liquidity, high productivity, technological innovation and continuing consumer confidence. …

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