The Publishing Crisis Moves Down the Food Chain

April 16, 2009

A front page story on most North American newspapers (and certainly all Canadian ones) is that AbitibiBowater, the world’s biggest newsprint producer (40% marketshare) has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States and plans to file for similar protection in Montreal on Friday.

According to the report in the (Toronto) Globe & Mail, “U.S. newsprint demand has been falling for more than 20 years. After peaking at 12.3 million tonnes in 1987, sales were just 6.8 million tonnes in 2008.”

A second story in the paper (which of course I read online) is: “Abitibi investors urged to run away.”

Meanwhile, over in the Wall Street Journal, the bad news report focused on Weyerhaeuser Co. which posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $1.21 billion on sales of $1.76 billion.

While Weyerhaeuser gains the bulk of its revenue on wood for building rather than on newsprint, it’s just bad news all around. A second report in the WSJ sates: “Last month Standard & Poor’s cut its long-term ratings on Weyerhaeuser one notch to right above junk status, saying the company will likely continue to post poor results.”

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It’s Not Just Reporters Losing Their Jobs

December 24, 2008

New York City, ever self-fixated, is treating the current downturn in the newspaper and magazine industries as a tragedy affecting mainly itself (oh yes, and a few folks in Chicago and LA), forgetting that this recession spreads far beyond its narrow borders.

An article yesterday in Canada’s The Globe & Mail (the rough equivalent of The New York Times in terms of reach and influence) points out that “across Canada, forestry is mired in a deep depression, with 40,000 jobs across the country shed over the last six years. In B.C. (British Columbia), the toll has topped 10,000.

“The pace of forestry’s decline has only worsened as the global downturn has intensified. It is one of the forces bringing economic growth in B.C. skidding to a screeching halt.”

Of course not all of this is related to paper consumption, but it’s a reminder of how far the dark night has spread.

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