Washington Post: ‘Don’t be fooled’

An article posted online today on the Washington Post site provides a grim perspective on the profits that four major newspaper publishers recorded for their second quarters:

It’s pretty likely that this “return to profitability” is only temporary, as more drastic changes are sure to come. Even if the economy turns around, think of the past week’s earnings as a small break from the pain the newspaper industry is going through.

The article also says this:

Having cut editorial and sales staffs significantly, it’s worth wondering whether newspapers will be able to maintain their brands, since competition from the web shows no sign of abating.

The Post offered no solutions for saving the newspaper industry, though it does say the industry’s survival is ‘the new profitability.’ But will people read a printed version of a depressed death rattle? Will advertisers invest in a staggering industry that threatens to bite the dust at any moment?

The robustness of web journalism makes the newspaper industry look geriatric, especially when emphasis is on survival rather than prosperity. But maybe it’s too late. Maybe these second-quarter profits are a smokescreen as publishers resign themselves to their own mortality, as they pick up their canes and hobble out the door.

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