Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 15, 2010

These Are The Days Of Our Lives

E&P has a summary of the latest major report on the state of the newspaper, long-time host to the comic strip expression of the comics art form and, if you've been paying attention to the mass firings and dire news spinning off of that industry on an almost daily basis, a crumbling American institution.

Although the report comes with the incredibly goofy-sounding name "Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism State of the News Media 2010," the message is clear: advertising is collapsing, and newspapers aren't really in a place to make up that advertising revenue loss either via the pursuit of new media opportunities or by making a stand based on the quality of individual publications. I haven't really seen any article state it as plainly as this one, but having just spent a weekend where the only TV commercials seem to star the UPS Cartoonist-Guy, Ellen Page or two children deciding not to cheat on their pregnant teacher, I can't imagine how things have constricted in the newspaper field. Just the thought of a wounded American auto industry seems to me to have obviously grim consequences for newsprint advertising.

As for the human cost, newsrooms have shrunk by 27 percent in the last few years, the report said. I've long said I don't think newsrooms were as lean and productive as they could be, particularly considering the changes in technology available to journalists, but even I'm not grumpy enough to suggest they were 1/3 over-staffed.

How all of this might have an effect on content providers like the strip syndicates seems pretty straight-forward: it definitely might. It's worth noting I haven't heard about a 27 percent shrink in the comics offerings over that same time period, although as stated in the recent past I think strip comics could start to feel it this year a bit more dramatically as things settle down at papers and cuts are still necessary somewhere in the overall package. The details, I imagine, of how thing develop from this point will drive a lot of what happens to specific sectors like comics.
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

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