According to Alan Mutter of Newsosaur, newspaper print advertising is tracking at a 10-year low. And when you factor for inflation the story gets much worse:
"If you subtract this year’s likely $42.7 billion in print-ad revenues from the constant-dollar value of the sales a decade ago, the difference of approximately $10 billion means that today’s revenues are nearly 20% lower than they were in 1997. On a constant-dollar basis, therefore, industry sales this year will be about one-fifth lower than they were in 1997."
Print advertising makes up more than 90% of the industry’s revenues so losses here have a huge effect.
Mutter says the news industry was able to bounce back from a similarly dire situation in the early 90s:
"The 9% decline in print sales to $10.1 billion in the three months ended in September marked the industry’s six straight quarter of year-to-year sales declines. The only worst performance in the last three decades was an eight-quarter sales slump in 1990-91."
Of course, the internet wasn’t a factor then.
Update (13 Dec 2007): Someone out there thinks there’s value to be found in newspaper stocks. via I Want Media