The newspaper harvest is underway

Harvest market position. This is the “take-the-money-and-run” plan. Because newspaper customers are such creatures of habit, it could be quite seductive. It means raising prices, reducing quality, and taking as much money of the firm as possible. I know of no newspaper company totally committed to that strategy. But, on some days, there are very strong indications that they are drifting in that direction, egged on by short-term investors. — Philip Meyer, The Vanishing Newspaper.

harvestMr. Meyer might want to revise his book. There are newspapers in full harvesting mode these days.

Bay Area News Group announces rebranding plan

I would argue newspapers have been in harvesting mode for the past decade, using the Internet to up sell (i.e., raise prices), reducing staff (lowering quality) and trying to maintain some level of profit margin even in the face of dwindling markets and increased competition.

Harvesting has been particularly acute at publicly traded companies or those held by private equity firms, and the process of harvesting in this sector of the newspaper industry is only going to accelerate.

Face it, if you were a newspaper investor, which strategy would you prefer: Harvest as much profit from the property as you can before closing it; or, investing in quality and/or digital R&D in the far-from-sure gamble that there might be some pay off down the road? If you accept that print media is doomed (not necessarily a position I agree with), and you have one sure chance to get your money out — harvesting — wouldn’t that be your strategy?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Kennedy/1813701 Dan Kennedy

    Wait a minute. Isn’t St. John of Paton calling the shots at MediaNews these days? I am shocked! Round up the usual suspects.

  • http://howardowens.com Howard Owens

    I must have missed some news. I hadn’t heard Paton was involved in Media News … some vague memory of something about that, but not sure.

    And you wouldn’t be suggesting, would you, that Mr. Paton isn’t the savior he’s made out to be, would you?