US cities to be left without newspapers

Several American cities will be without a local paper by 2010 – that’s the gloomy forecast of a Chicago credit rating firm which has been analysing future trends in American media.

The results – published in Editor and Publisher, America’s equivalent of Press Gazette – indicate that the closedown of some American papers has already started, and will get worse

To blame, of course, is the current financial crisis, a serious drop off in advertising and the parlous state of many American publishing companies. Several are likely to go into default and bankruptcy, the survey suggests.

Already, in a first step, several large US newspaper companies have started laying off staff, including Gannett which publishes USA Today. Other layoffs have occurred this week at the Chicago Tribune, The Arizona Republican and The Tenessean, while in Indiana two local weeklies that have been publishing since the thirties are scheduled to close in January. It’s estimated that across the country there have been over 900 news industry lay-offs this week alone.

The new survey suggests that advertising in US newspapers will decline at a rate of almost ten per cent for at least the next two years. The biggest declines, it’s forecast, will be in auto, financial services, airlines, hotels and car rentals.

The one bright spot is in New York – where Tina Brown’s new website The Daily Beast is said to be taking on writers who have been laid off.

Unlike some blog-based sites, The Daily Beast has a policy of always paying its writers – Brown has said. The going rate for an ordered story on the Beast is said to be up to £200.

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