The newspaper industry as a whole has presented some sobering statistics lately. With readership and traditional revenue both falling, publishers have been laying off staff and looking for new ways to bring in business. Publishers couldn’t be blamed if they had a dour outlook for next year but a new industry survey shows newspaper owners are expecting improvement.

Annual print advertising revenue has dropped from $42 billion to $20.7 billion in the past 5 years. The huge plunge in ad revenue seems oversized when you consider that daily newspaper circulation has dropped only 12.7% during the same time period. Over 44 million consumers read both the daily and Sunday newspapers. In addition, newspapers are having some success with their online business models. In August 2012, over 110 million consumers visited newspaper websites with the average visitor checking a site nearly 10 times in a month. Online ad revenue is slowly rising and reached $3.249 billion last year.

These trends may explain why newspaper publishers are feeling better about the future. In their responses to the Cribb, Greene Publisher Confidence Survey Fall 2012, publishers of daily and non-daily papers say the economy is looking better:

  • Improving 41%
  • About the same 46%
  • Declining 13%

Publishers also think they can get more ad revenue through the door next year with 51% saying they’ll have higher ad sales in 2013. Another 31% believe they’ll sell the same level of advertising that they’ve achieved this year. Only 18% are expecting their ad sales to drop.

The overall sentiment about the newspaper industry is growing more favorable among publishers. This year, 49% said they would buy another newspaper, while last year only 46% had that opinion. In addition, 35% of publishers would now recommend the industry to their children. This is a small increase over last year and the number of publishers cautioning their children to stay away fell 7%. For now, only 31% are advising their children to seek careers elsewhere.

This  attitude change is likely due, in part, to the improving economy. But, perhaps publishers are also feeling that they can manage their existing business profitably while using their established reputations to build new business in the digital format.

[Sources: Trends and Numbers. Naa.org. 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2012; Publishers confidence up significantly in Fall 2012. Crib.com. 5 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2012]