Billionaires bring hope to newspapers

|| November 1, 2013

The arrival of new billionaires into the newspaper publishing world is bringing a much-needed confidence boost according to some seasoned watchers.

That's in the US, where the likes of Jeff Bezos and John Henry have joined Warren Buffett as newspaper owners.

It can be difficult to compare the US and Australian newspaper markets. Some US papers were punished years ago for not investing in their product when the good times were rolling. When revenues turned south, readers wanted to know why they had to pay more for some papers that were becoming thinner and were still printed largely in black and white.

Australian newspaper companies have a better record for investing in their products. But they have also faced the challenge of asking readers to pay more for work coming out of newsrooms with fewer journalists and photographers.

Australian newspaper executives will know that the US digital newspaper trends are ahead of this country. And the US trends have shown no quick fix for the revenue plunge.

The New York Times noted the challenges of a fragmenting digital advertising market in its latest results released overnight.

Confidence may be back in the US newspaper market but one question remains - will improved confidence lead to improved revenues? Australian newspaper executives will be watching.