struggling new york times, struggling newspapers, newspapers ask for handouts, foundations help newspapers, philanthropy saves newspapers
Bassem Tellawi/AP
A newsstand in Paris.

No Buyer for Baltimore Examiner; Paper Ceases Publication

January 30, 2009 01:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Baltimore Examiner, a three-year-old free tabloid paper, has fallen victim to the adverstising slump and has closed up shop.

The Baltimore Examiner Folds

Although Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon has not always gotten along with reporters from the Baltimore Examiner, she has expressed her regret that the paper will shut down due to poor ad sales. The free paper served as a counterpoint to the Baltimore Sun, which is typically a more liberal paper.

The Examiner has been trying to cut costs since last year by reducing copies printed and limiting home delivery to two days a week. It has also been seeking a buyer for many months, but to no avail. The newspaper will officially cease publication on February 15.

Background: American publications also struggling

Newspapers across the United States are facing flagging sales and advertising due to the prevalence of free online content and a faltering economy. Some major metropolitan dailies are filing for bankruptcy or may fold altogether.

Many American publications have suffered so badly that they have been forced to restructure their finances and seek funding in unexpected places.

One journalism professor suggested that newspapers might begin approaching civic foundations and private donors for philanthropic aid.

Meanwhile, The New York Times Company, which owns and controls The New York Times, accepted $250 million from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú in exchange for shares; the newspaper has seen a drop in advertising sales and is currently carrying $1.1 billion in debt.

Slim, who is reported to be the world’s second-richest man, is the owner of Banco Inbursa and Telmex, a communications company. He already owns 6.9 percent of the Times Company; the deal would increase his ownership to 17 percent.

In addition, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently went up for sale. The only other paper in the city, the Seattle Times, may also shut down; if both publications were to close, Seattle would be the only major U.S. city without its own newspaper.

In December, Tribune Co., one of the nation’s largest newspaper publishers (controlling the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. and Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Va.) sought bankruptcy protection, due to a $13 billion debt and a loss of advertisers. In the meantime, the group that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News missed an interest payment in an attempt to get their loan renegotiated.

Two weeks ago, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune officially filed for bankruptcy protection after talks with major unions did not yield a series of labor concessions the paper said would be necessary to sustain it economically. The Star Tribune plans to continue publishing news as it restructures its finances, however.

Related Topics: Failed magazines; France's crusade to save print

Things are so bad for print media that Adverstising Age has published a Guide to Magazines That Have Ceased Publication. The list includes the publications that closed down in 2008 and some that are scheduled to shut down in early 2009. Most of the magazines were targeted at specific groups, such as teens, Latinos, gamers, children or women.

Meanwhile, in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced on Friday that the government will offer free yearlong newspaper subscriptions to teens, in an effort to increase readership among the young and give a boost to the ailing print industry. The publishers will provide the papers, and the state will absorb delivery fees.

The measure is intended to encourage young people to embrace print. In a speech to publishers Sarkozy asserted, “The habit of reading the press is learned very young.” The French president hopes the move will give falling newspaper sales a boost and give the industry time to adapt to the “changing media landscape,” according to the Associated Press. The government is also increasing its support of delivery fees and will spend more on newspaper advertisements.
In October, Sarkozy launched a crusade to save the French press, which included loosening restrictions on ownership. At the time, he was criticized for attempting to curry favor with the media giants such as the CEO of France’s largest private TV channel, who happens to be Sarkozy's close friend.

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