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Newspapers’ Worst Quarter: Q1 Online Revs Plunged 13.4 Percent — NAA

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imageIn what appears to have been one of the worst advertising quarters for newspapers since the Depression, the Newspaper Association of America quietly said the total revs were down 28.3 percent in Q1, with Alan D. Mutter noticing that sales dropped by more than $2.6 billion from the year before. Meanwhile, as print ad sales slid by 29.7 percent to $5.9 billion, even online sales had their worst quarter yet, falling 13.4 percent to $696.3 million. To read the complete numbers, click here.

More after the jump

Back to 1987: Since it’s unlikely that the economy will suddenly snap back, newspapers are on track toward making less than $30 billion in revenues this year — the first time sales figures will fall below that number since 1987, Mutter said. It’s certainly a far cry from the industry’s all-time high of $49.4 million in revs in 2005.

Classifieds and opportunities lost: Aside from the general migration of users and advertisers to online, newspapers have been most devastated by loss of classified advertising to sites like Craigslist, as a recent Pew Study showed. The NAA figures offer further evidence of how newspapers have so much catching up to do in the area of real estate and jobs.To be sure, observers will debate how much of an effect the global financial meltdown has influenced Q1 spending. But as Mutter says, newspaper ads have been trending downward since April 2006, which was a while before this latest recession began.

Here’s how Q1 broke down along segment lines:

— National ads: -25.9 percent to $1.1 billion.
— Retail ads: -23.7% to $3.3 billion.
— Help wanteds: -67.4 percent to $205.4 million.
— Real estate: -45.6 percent to $336.9 million.
— Cars: -43.4 percent to $332.8 million.
— “Other” classifieds: -16.5% to $587.7 million.

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