Angry Americans are voting with their media choices, and the news is very bad for complacent leftists. The mainstream media continue their downward slide as the New York Times and Washington Post report continuing drops in profits and stock values. That’s great news for the rest of us.
Pressed hard by an evolving marketplace in which access to potential readers is becoming much more evenly available through the internet and proliferation of TV channels, old-media giants have been caught flat-footed. Their values are falling, and where they will stop, no one knows.
The corporate cultures of these media giants became arrogant and sclerotic during the decades when they faced little real competition, when, as the saying went, freedom of the press was true for those who owned a printing press (and the corresponding distribution system).
The same was true where there were only a limited number of channels distributed through the broadcast airwaves. Media giants such as the New York Times, Washington Post, the three major TV networks, and CNN never developed entrepreneurial, competitive, audience-oriented internal cultures like those at newer competitors. They are now paying the price in decreasing readership/viewership, lower earnings, and declining stock values.
All of these lumbering media giants have begun trimming their staffs, as the Washington Post has done again in recent days by giving generous early retirement packages to more than 100 employees, including the prestigious investigative reporter and fantasist Bob Woodward. This is in fact the third buyout offered hiim in this decade, an indication of how serious the money problems at the Post have become.
The Washington Post Co. reported a 39 percent profit drop in the first quarter of this year, as newspaper circulation and revenue continued to decline. Advertising revenue was down 11 percent, driven by a large fall in classified ad sales. Online revenue grew 8 percent over the previous year (not a very fast pace, actually, for a Web site). The company’s education publications and cable television units are doing well, but the newspaper and magazine (Newsweek) divisions continue to decline.
The New York Times Co. is suffering similar woes. Citing the flagship paper’s declining ad revenues, Standard & Poors has cut the company’s rating to BBB-, which is just above "junk bond" status (a status which the Times had derided for many years when investors such as Michael Millken were using such investments to finance very risky but potentially highly productive ventures). News reports noted a further downgrade was possible.
Given that the New York Times Co. is highly diversified, the downgrading based on declining ad revenues at the New York Times and the firm’s other newspapers (such as the likewise openly leftist Boston Globe) is a further indication that the mainstream leftist newspapers are in dire trouble.
This is good news for the rest of us, of course, as the greater competition the marketplace is currently creating means that consumers will have increasing choice among equals.
That means the leftward journey of the media and allied intelligentsia will either end or, if it continues, will bring to a blessed conclusion the slow suicide of the leftist American mainstream media.