The Newspaper Association of America has reported a decline in industry ad revenues every three months since a modest gain in the second quarter of 2006. That adds up to six-and-a-half years — 26 consecutive quarters — of revenue losses through 2012.
Without announcement, NAA has stopped compiling and releasing quarterly figures this year. So now in mid-September there is no industry-wide indicator of industry revenue trends for the first half of 2013.
In an interview for the Harvard Riptide project, NAA CEO Caroline Little said she and the organization’s board decided it was time to stop beating themselves up four times a year with the negative numbers. The organization still intends to release an annual revenue report in spring 2014. Little explained her thinking in an interview with Riptide co-author Paul Sagan:
Little: You know, one of the frustrations about doing this job is people just say, “Newspapers are dead.” And all media has been disrupted in the past 10, 15 years. The saddest part for me is, when I came to the Newspaper Association, which pretty much does things the way that they’ve been doing things for a long time, we were publishing the print advertising numbers and the print circulation numbers every quarter.
And every quarter, we’d send out a press release, which would start something like, “For the 21st quarter in a row, the newspaper industry has lost X, X, and X.” And I’m like, we’re press releasing this? I mean, it was so hard just to stop doing the press release, but at the same time you think, “Well, you’re the trade association, you could make the numbers transparent.” So, I did a little study, and I found that every time we released those numbers, about 100 stories would come out citing the NAA numbers saying the newspaper industry is dead.