The erosion in print ad sales kicked off at the beginning of 2016 and did not let up. In the fourth quarter alone, print sales dropped 20 per cent at the New York Times and at McClatchy, operator of 29 US daily papers. Gannett, owner of USA Today, reported a 15 per cent fall in the US and a 14 per cent decline at Newsquest, its UK chain. News Corp said the fall in print dragged total ad revenue down 29 per cent at News UK (publisher of The Sun and The Times), 20 per cent at Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones and 12 per cent at its Australian papers. The Financial Times and Tronc, the owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, have also been hit.
Print’s fortunes are not expected to improve. Global newspaper advertising spending will shrink by 8 per cent a year to the end of 2021, according to Magna Global, the media buying agency.