An analysis of financially troubled newspaper companies by Time magazine has resulted in a Top 10 list of dailies likely to become web-only publications in the next 18 months. The magazine’s “24/7 Wall Street” team selected the publications based on “the financial strength of their parent companies, the amount of direct competition that they face in their markets, and industry information on how much money they are losing.”
The analysis, which has been echoed by other financial publications, comes in the wake of bankruptcy filings by the Chicago Tribune Co. in December, and more recently, the owners of the Philadelphia dailies and the Journal Register chain. The Rocky Mountain News recently ceased operations completely, and the Seattle Post Intelligencer, owned by Hearst, will almost certainly close or only publish online. Hearst also has said it like will close The San Francisco Chronicle if it cannot reach an agreement with unions to make massive cuts at the paper.
The 10 dailies selected in order by Time are:
1. The Philadelphia Daily News, the smaller of the two papers owned by The Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, which recently filed for bankruptcy. The tabloid with 100,000 circulation will probably become part of Philly.com, the web operation for both of the city dailies.
2. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, which also has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. If its revenues continue to drop, Time reports, it could shut down completely or become an all-digital property.
3. The Miami Herald, which has a daily circulation that has plunged dramatically to about 220,000. It has been for sale since December, but no serious bidders have emerged. It is likely that the Herald will go online-only with two editions, one for English-speaking readers and one for Spanish, according to Time.
4. The Detroit News, one of two daily papers left in a city that has been devastated by the decline of the automobile industry. “With the fortunes of Detroit getting worse each day, cutting back the number of days that the paper is delivered will not save enough money to keep the paper open,” Time reports.
5. The Boston Globe is losing an estimated $1 million a week, according to several reports. Owned by The New York Times, its large losses may be unsustainable for much longer, especially considering the parent paper’s plight in New York City. What’s left of the paper’s staff will probably become part of Boston.com, the online site that includes the digital aspects of the Globe.
6. The San Francisco Chronicle. As described above, its owner Hearst has already set a deadline for shutting the paper if it cannot make tremendous cost cuts. Time says it could be online only by mid-2009.
7. The Chicago Sun Times. Despite the plight of the much-larger Chicago Tribune, the stock of the Sun Times parent company now trades for $.03 a share. Enough said.
8. The NY Daily News is one of several large papers struggling in New York City. “Based on figures from other big dailies it could easily lose $60 million or $70 million and has no chance of recovering from that level,” Time reports.
9. The Fort Worth Star Telegram competes with the much larger, financially strapped Dallas Morning News in areas. Merging the two papers together would create a larger circulation daily that would save tens of millions of dollars a year.
10. The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Like the Detroit News, it is a once-proud watchdog of a city now in serious decline. Part of the Newhouse family empire, which publishes magazines like The New Yorker in its Conde Nast group, the Plain Dealer “will be shut or go digital by the end of next year.”
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