In a move that’s all too telling about the state of newspapers in the digital age, the 175-year-old New Orleans Times-Picayune, will cut back from seven printed issues a week, down to three this fall. News coverage on the Times-Picayune’s website will, however, remain continuous.
The change at the venerable newspaper means New Orleans will become the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper, the Associated Press reports.
The Times-Picayune owner, Advance Publications, also announced similar cut backs at the Birmingham News, the Press-Register and The Huntsville Times, in Alabama.
Not surprisingly, fewer issues will mean staff cuts. Advance Publication’s officials said changes were necessary to reduce costs and adapt to a changing news market in which consumers rely more on instantly updated information on the Internet and less on printed papers.
The cutbacks are just the latest blow to the nation’s newspapers, which have seen ad revenues and subscriber numbers dwindle from Internet competition.
Paid circulation at the Times-Picayune plummeted 49% from 2005, though population displacement resulting from Hurricane Katrina was largely to blame for the sharp fall. However, the three Alabama newspapers whose print issues were scaled back also saw double-digit circulation declines in recent years.
Industry watchers cited by the AP said news organizations were struggling to find a revenue model compatible with the Internet.
Still, newspapers have their champions, including billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) recently acquired more than 60 newspapers. Shares of newspaper publishers like Gannett (NYSE:GCI), McClatchy (NYSE:MNI), and Lee Enterprises (NYSE:LEE) have also risen recently.
Others argue that newspapers are a losing bet. With falling revenue and sinking circulation, print faces a hard road to find profits in the Digital Age.