Another US media company bites the dust. Another major US media company has collapsed and gone into bankruptcy, the 4th to do so since last December, as falling revenues and hundreds of millions of dollars in debts proved too much. The Philadelphia-based Journal Register Co sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Saturday, citing declining advertising revenue and the heavy debt load. It follows the collapse in early December last year of the huge Tribune Co which could result in losses of more than $US6 billion. It had debts of $US12.9 billion at the time of its failure. It owned a string of papers in Chicago and Los Angeles, plus 23 TV stations and other investments.

Last week Young Broadcasting, a US regional TV broadcaster with 10 stations, went into Chapter 11 owing hundreds of millions of dollars. In January the Star Tribune Co in Minneapolis went bust and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It was owned by a private equity group. And The New York Times Co suspended its reduced dividend on Friday, our time, as it struggles to raise the cash to meet a huge debt payment in May. it joined the struggling McClatchy Co in cutting payouts to shareholders to try and survive.

The Journal Register Co, which publishes 20 daily newspapers including The New Haven Register and The Trentonian, has already come to agreements with key creditors through a pre-negotiated reorganization plan, and said it was planning to restructure its operations.

The company had about $US692 million of outstanding debt, it said in court papers. It listed total assets of about $US596 million and total liabilities of about $US737 million. It has arranged around $US275 million in bankruptcy finance to allow the restructure.

The company said advertising revenue had been driven lower by the housing downturn, declining automotive sales, the retail sector slowdown, a slow labor market and a shift to online media. — Glenn Dyer

Why my magazine is booming. Talk among journalists these days is uniformly depressing. Circulations are falling; hacks are being laid off. Where two or three are gathered together fear and uncertainty reign. But in my own neck of the woods, which is the world of small magazines, it is by no means all doom and gloom. Newspapers and magazines depend on the quality of their editorial content and it is always a mistake to credit ill-defined factors like fashion or the changes of national mood for the rise and fall of sales. — The Oldie

Beyond the Oscar spectacle, Hollywood is grumbling. Movers and shakers in the film industry don’t like to grumble openly about the Oscars. After all, nobody wants to be caught talking down a ritual that has been very good, for a very long time, to a very large number of people in the glamour business. Still, the Hollywood table-talk this year has been much less about Oscar prospects and more about the process. And an overriding theme is this: The movie prize cycle had better become shorter, brighter and more popular in its bent — or some major players are pulling back. — The New York Times

Hot news: the AP is living in the last century. A case between the Associated Press and All Headline News is moving forward based on a 90-year-old legal doctrine which may no longer be applicable in the Internet age. A federal judge ruled that the AP can sue AHN for stealing its “hot news”. — TechCrunch

The business press and the cult of personality. The birth and death of false idols in the business press is a strange and important phenomenon. Strange because it keeps happening. Important because it is a symptom of a serious weakness in coverage. It reflects the fact that the press is clinging to an old narrative, built around Wall Street Masters of the Universe. — Columbia Journalism Review

Wikileaks publishes secret donor list. Whistleblower website Wikileaks faced a dilemma this week when a list of email addresses for the site’s donors was submitted as a leaked document. The issue arose after a fund raising email on Saturday went out with all 58 addresses in the To field (instead of the bcc field). The all too common schoolboy error meant that all the recipients found out the online identities of other donors. — The Register

It is still possible to cash in on celebrity. it seems a bit early to start being nostalgic for 2007; there’s a recession to get through first, the impact of which is already clear, although some people are obviously a little more immune than others. In the celebrity economy, where the media focuses so much of its attention, it is becoming clear that the days of big-money, big-ego deals in television are being replaced by less-money, big-ego deals. — The Times

How to keep public notices in the newspaper — and why. Newspaper public notices are under attack as never before, as government bodies peddle the notion that the Internet is the cheaper medium. Here are five things to know about public notices — and five things to do. — Editor & Publisher

Defamer folds into Gawker. Defamer is being absorbed into the company’s power-crazed flagship title. Defamer posts will now appear under, while simultaneously feeding into the Gawker homepage. — Defamer

America’s top heroes: Obama, Jesus. When Americans are asked to pick the people they admire sufficiently to classify as heroes, who makes the cut? An open-ended Harris Poll released this week shows Barack Obama getting the most mentions, with Jesus Christ the runner-up.Adweek

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off