April 8, 2013

Via the Associated Press comes some good news: Revenue in the newspaper industry declined by 2 percent in 2012. Only 2 percent, that is. That’s the slowest rate of decline in six years, according to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), which tracks these things.

Now for some hard numbers. From $39.5 billion in 2011, industry revenue dropped to $38.6 billion in 2012, according to the NAA. Those figures are projections based on data from 17 public and private companies that “represent a broad sample of daily newspaper operations across the United States,” according to the group.

The big winner among revenue streams at newspapers across the country? That’s no surprise — circulation. From the NAA’s release on the data:

The 5% overall growth in circulation revenue was the first gain in this category for the newspaper industry since 2003. Within that total, for the companies supplying detailed breakdowns, digital-only circulation revenue grew 275%; print and digital bundled circulation revenue grew 499%. Largely as a result of more organizations shifting toward bundling print and online into combined access subscriptions, print-only circulation revenue declined 14%.

In other words, insist that people pay for your product.

The NAA is bullish on the trend among newspapers toward “new revenue sources,” so much so that it created a new category in its report for them. Such sources include “digital agency and marketing,” wherein newspapers “help local businesses market their products, particularly digitally, in social and mobile. Revenue from digital agency and marketing services from those nine companies [which reported revenue in this area] rose 91% during the year.”*; “E-commerce and transactions,” wherein newspapers assist businesses to “connect directly with consumers”; and “event marketing,” wherein newspapers host seminars and conferences to talk about things.

*Given how the newspaper industry has adapted to changing times, it’s a wonder that it’s now profiting from assisting others with this challenge. But hey, whatever pays for the journalism!

[Inspiration for headline --"We'll take it" -- comes from this piece by former Washington Post staff writer Frank Ahrens.]

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.