Some fresh data for the first month of the year from a handful of newspapers… Note that two of them, Media General (NYSE: MEG) and Gannett (NYSE: GCI), have announced changes to the way they report, offering less info on print, ostensibly because of the increased importance of digital. Neither, however, offered much more information on digital than they have in the past.
— Media General: It won’t get any easier to fend off the activist shareholders … Media General, under siege by Harbinger, reported total January revenue of $71.5 million, down 8.3 percent from $77.9 million in the year-ago period. Publishing revenue was down 14.9 percent to $41.2 million, on characteristic weakness, while interactive media revenue dropped 4.7 percent on weak results in online classifieds. It did say that local ad revenues were up 11.8 percent. As for the above mentioned change, compare the level of detail in today’s release to the one from the month before. From here on, the monthly report will offer less info on the print side than it used to. The company claims it’s because the traditional newspaper business is less relevant than it used to be, in light of new offerings, including its digital properties, and so there’s less reason to include as many line items. But it does have the effect of making the dead-tree business harder to analyze, while digital remains just 3.6 percent of the business.
— Gannett: The USA Today parent reported a 7.5 percent decline in January revenue to $575.4 million. Newspaper revenue slid 9.2 percent, with classifieds dropping by 16.2 percent. From now on, print ad volume will no longer be included, which, the company claims, has to do with the increasing role of digital advertising. Fair enough, but if they’re going to reduce the print data, how about some color to the digital info, particularly if the rise of digital is the reason? As it is, the only digital data point they offer is 25.8 million unique users in the month. Release.
— McClatchy: January ad revenue fell 14.4 percent to $176.8 million from $206.7 million. Ad revenue was down 15.7 percent, with extreme weakness seen in employment and real estate classifieds. No digital data was broken out, but they’re not reducing the amount of print data for now. Release.
— Journal Communications: A relatively modest January decline for Journal Communications (NYSE: JRN), as it reported revenue of $31.92 million, down 3.1 percent from the year-ago period. Ad revenue at the newspaper business fell 6.4 percent to $10.72 million. Interactive revenue was up 17 percent to $1.08 million. Release.