OUTLOOK 2001: EXCLUSIVE E&P POLL

By: Greg Mitchell

Most Editors, Publishers Expect Recession


After two years dominated by the “e” word, we now face a rocky
period sure to revolve around the “r” word: recession to the
point of obsession. And with good reason. According to a new,
exclusive, national poll for E&P, almost 60% of editors
and publishers expect a recession during the coming year, and
nearly all of them say the newspaper industry will suffer as a
result.

Although nearly three out of four in this group expect the
downturn to last less than two years, the question of the moment
remains: “r” you experienced? Many publishers and editors have
not served in an executive position during a recession, and,
clearly, most of them will have to keep their wits about them
(and look for creative solutions) in difficult times.
Already, execs are lowering expectations for the year, in the
aftermath of the Christmas retail sales muddle and widely
publicized cutbacks at several top newspaper Web sites. While
exactly half of our sample expect a “good” year for revenue, only
5% call the prospects “excellent.”
And better than one in four expect staffing cutbacks at their
papers this year – twice the number who anticipate increases
– with the biggest reductions among production and clerical
workers.

Outlook isn’t all gloomy

But the outlook is far from gloomy. Among those who expect a
recession, only one in five say the newspaper industry will
suffer to a “great extent,” with the vast majority saying it will
have only “some” effect. And a high number plan to make
significant upgrades in their plant and equipment this year.
This is particularly noteworthy in light of our findings that
newspaper executives suddenly appear less fearful of the long-
range impact of the Internet. Perhaps they now feel less nervous
about investing in their print product for the long term.
This survey of 255 editors and publishers (about evenly divided
between the two groups) was conducted for E&P by TIPP, an
Oradell, N.J.-based unit of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence.
The sample roughly corresponds to national percentages of large,
midsize, and small papers (with the majority on the small side).
Do you see an economic recession beginning in … ?

The next 3 months: 22%
3 to 6 months: 21.6%
6 to 12 months: 14.5%
Do not see one: 38.8%
No answer: 3.1%

To what extent will a recession adversely impact the newspaper
industry?

Great extent: 20.3%
Some extent: 74.3%
Little or no extent: 2.7%
Not sure: 2.7%

What are your newspaper’s prospects for revenue in … the
first six months of 2001? (Publishers only)

Excellent: 4.6%
Good: 50.3%
Fair: 40.5%
Poor: 3.8%
Not Sure: 0.8%

What do you expect in terms of staffing at your newspaper
over the coming 12 months? (Asked of all publishers)

Increase: 14.3%
Decrease: 27.8%
Remain the same: 54.9%
No answer: 3%



For complete survey results, see this week’s print edition
of E&P. Besides bottom-line forecasts of revenue, cost,
and staffing trends for the coming year, the TIPP survey also
uncovered some surprising attitudes about the Web, the new Bush
administration, and progress in minority hiring. To subscribe,
click here.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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