Further evidence just to hand of the publishing miracle that is Australia’s Fairfax group, a newspaper stable immune from the cruel realities besetting their peers across the newspaper printing globe. Bloomberg reports today on a US news icon in trouble:

New York Times Co., the third- largest US newspaper publisher, said second-quarter profit declined 5.5 percent as job cuts and price increases failed to make up for plunging print advertising sales. Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson said today that the company is accelerating cost-cutting efforts in the face of a slumping US economy and will exceed a target for $230 million in annual savings by the end of 2009. Robinson also said the New York Times newspaper will raise its weekday newsstand price by 25 cents to $1.50 starting Aug. 18.

June ad sales tumbled 16 percent, the most in at least two years, mirroring the slide reported last week by Gannett Co, the largest US newspaper company. The publishers were hit by a steeper drop in national ads, coupled with a continued decline in classifieds as marketers moved to the Internet.

“I doubt whether you’ll see any improvement at all this year,” said John Morton, a newspaper industry analyst in Silver Spring, Maryland. The drop in June is “about in line with what other companies are reporting.”

Readers and employees of Fairfax must be grateful for the wise and diligent stewardship of the Fairfax executive and board, a group cannily steering a course calculated to insulate Fairfax from the market trends that are slowly killing the world’s great newspapers. As CEO David Kirk puts it: “We are past that here. We know how to do our newspapers well and we know how to do the internet well, and we can put them together to deliver a fantastic 24-hour news product.” 

Phew.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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