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February 16, 2007

Breaking News: Yes, but tell that to Wall Street

mclennan

Reuters reported Wednesday a study showing that investment in the newsroom will actually help newspapers make more money. This commonsensical conclusion came from researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia, who spent a decade scouring financial data to find that newsroom quality affected the bottomline more than advertising and other departments.

The findings emerge during a growing trend in the industry to eliminate jobs in order to boost profits. According to job outplacement tracking firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the number of planned job cuts in the U.S. media sector surged 88 percent to 17,809 last year, Reuters reported.

"If you invest in the newsroom, do you make more money? The answer is yes," Esther Thorson, an advertising professor and associate dean for graduate studies at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, said in a statement.

While some may see the study as cause for celebrating, given the anxiety currently besieging publishers over declining circulation, stock prices and relevance to young readers, Philip Meyer, a professor at the University of North Carolina and author of the book "The Vanishing Newspaper," told Reuters he won't be holding his breath.

"I don't share the authors' confidence that the industry will appreciate the importance of their result and act on it," Meyer said. "Too many owners are more interested in harvesting than investing."

Two days later, Georgia Public Broadcasing reports that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the largest paper in Georgia whose national stature has grown as the Southeast has grown, announced it will cut back on its circulation. It will no longer distribute to Alabama, South Carolina and Florida. It will also scale back in-state circulation to 66 of Georgia's 145 counties. The newspaper had previously delivered to 145 counties.

Posted by mclennan at February 16, 2007 10:25 AM

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