I’ve come across a couple of incidental comments on the post I wrote last night about watching the reinvention of the metro daily.

(Incidental comments work like this: Ryan Sholin excerpted a few grafs from my post, which Howard Owens commented on at Ryan’s site. Jeff Jarvis picked up on Howard’s comment and posted a shortish item at his site, BuzzMachine.)

I don’t disagree with Howard’s comment which, in part, said this:

Actually, I think once the economy turns around, newspaper revenue will improve.

Are newspapers in some sort of death throes. Absolutely. But will newspapers die in the next five years. No. Not even in the next 10.

But a lot of what is happening right now. A lot of the job losses right now are because of cyclical economics, not secular changes.

Newspapers will start hiring again in about a year to 18 months (of course, hiring never gets the headlines layoffs due, so hardly anybody will notice).

Of course the economy will improve. Economies run in cycles. Advertising spending will bounce back and newspapers will benefit.

What seems doubtful to me, is that newspapers that are currently shedding staff and restructuring the survivors, are going to abandon their new structures (at least not if they are working) and going on a hiring spree to rebuild the old forms. If smaller newsrooms are working, I think they will stay small and hiring will be targetted at need: perhaps multimedia reporters or database journalists or even (shudder) pure tech folk. Newspaper bottom lines will improve, but I suspect they will be based on tightly-controlled costs.

The point is not that newspapers won’t bounce back, but that they will bounce back as different beasts and, to my mind, smaller beasts.

Jeff Jarvis, meanwhile, wrote this about Howard’s comment:

…Howard Owens said that when the economy comes back (God, Fannie Mae, and OPEC willing) so will newspaper revenue. I agree. But I was just thinking that I fear this may lull some companies into thinking they don’t have to change.

That may be the case. And it may certainly be the case here in Canada, where newspaper execs are further lulled by projections that Canada’s growth will slow but we will have no recession. Interestingly, even without a recession, newspapers are being hit. I was talking to the ad manager for a suburban non-daily the other day and he said that while his newspaper is hitting budget targets, national advertising is way off.

The problem with that kind of thinking, of course, is that the recession hasn’t caused newspapers’ woes, it has only “enhanced” challenges that were already speeding up: long-term downward drift in readership, collapsing entry fees for new competitors for advertising, disruption of the ‘net, etc.

(NOTE: Does it bother me that comments about my post weren’t left at my site? Nope. One of the new media realities is that the conversation goes where it wants to; one of the new media literacy skills is following the conversation wherever it goes.)

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