Newspaper ad revenues slide to ’60s levels

Ryan Chittum of Columbia Journalism Review takes a look at newspaper advertising in 2009 which is expected to collapse to $31.6 billion, or just below 1993 levels. When he adjusts for inflation the situation gets far worse:

You have to go back to 1965 to find a year with revenue lower in 2009 dollars than what this year is projected to be. That year, the industry took in $4.42 billion, which works out to $30.22 billion in current dollars. The industry can only hope this year hits 1966 levels, which work out to $32.4 billion in real dollars.

I wondered how the revenue picture aligned with newsroom staffing. I wasn’t able to find a comparable time series but I did scan a recent Congressional Research Service report on the state of the newspaper  industry which said:

Daily papers cut their newsrooms by 11% in 2008, the biggest one-year drop since 1978. Daily newsroom staffing is off 17% from the recent, 2001 peak of 56,400.28 According to Erica Smith, a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, nearly 10,000 journalists were laid-off or took buyouts in the first five months of 2009 alone.29