Already facing huge losses, cost cuts, nasty and sustained falls in advertising (some of which, like jobs, has probably gone online for ever), now comes a further blow: the huge Marriott Hotel is cutting its free national papers for guests each day.

The hotel will supply either The Wall Street Journal or USA Today (The New York Times or other big papers in some markets). But in some markets, Marriott will not be supplying any papers at all.

The US Justice Department has also weighed in with a cost cut of its own: it’s only small, but it’s an indicator of what is to come. In a list of 121 programs they want to cut from the current US budget,  President Obama’s bean counters revealed plans to phase out buying newspaper ads to publish property forfeiture notices. The Department estimated that killing off newspaper advertising would save $US 6.7 million over five years.

Federal regulations require the Department to advertise all pending court actions in which the government is seeking to seize private property as part of criminal and civil proceedings. The Justice Department has traditionally advertised these forfeiture notices in newspapers, but it’s now has created its own website on which to publish them: www.forfeiture.gov. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Unfortunately, this could be the first of a trend. Governments everywhere publish notices, job ads and so on in papers large and small. Now that a senior government department has made the first step, could all those regulations, job ads and so on end up on the websites of various governments, with only token newspaper advertising to attract attention? 

Peter Fray

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