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Few shining lights amidst grim newspaper reports

Last week Gannett announced that it would lay off 1000 employees across its chain of papers (the announcement sent their stock price up) and the axe has already fallen in the Courier-Journal in Louisville which is laying off 15 of their employees. The Indianapolis Star, home of Gary Varvel is looking to cut 23; the Tucson Citizen and Tucson Newspapers will cut 30; The Tallahassee Democrat and Pensacola News Journal also plan to cut jobs. The Rockford Register Star (Il) has laid off 13 and closed their Springfield bureau.

And it may not be over. According to an article over at E&P, a recent Morningstar report says that newspapers, despite losing 80% of their stock value last year, they’re still overvalued. Another published report by The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press takes issue with newspaper executives oft used defense for the decline of readership – that their online offerings are growing and shows – and reports that a that web readership has not grown in two years. In fact for the first time in 15 years of asking Americans about their news reading habits, less that half (46%) now read a daily newspaper on a regular basis.

But if there is a good news with this batch of reports it’s that The St. Petersburg Times has announced that due to enough employees opting for their early retirement incentives, they will not be reducing their staff for the time being.

AND, lastly, the Idaho Falls Post Register has given notice that they will end their contract with the AP citing the costs and restrictions of using the service. Money quote for the publisher, Roger Plothow:

I’ll put my cards on the table — I’m not sure how we’re going to pull this off. While the AP’s value to us has been severely diminished over the years, it still does provide a handful of services that we haven’t been able to find elsewhere — yet. I’m betting, however, that it’s only a matter of time. More likely, we’ll use that time to become essentially 100 percent local, which is probably where we’re headed eventually anyway.

Maybe he was influenced by a recent column written by Ted Rall suggesting that one of the ways to stave off a total collapse in the newspaper industry would be to cut off the wire services.

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