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December 5, 2008

US newspapers: Obama’s bail-out plan for classified ads

By Peter Kirwan MM blog

In the US, Ken Doctor breaks the news that Barack Obama is planning to pass a Newspaper Recovery Classified Stimulus Act.

Actually, it’s a wind-up. But as Doctor points out, Obama’s plans on jobs (2.5m new ones), cars (Detroit is too big to fail) and housing (support for mortgage holders) should support newspaper classified markets.

The question, of course, is how much classified advertising will return to print. Writes Doctor:

If the return number is 90%, we’d see rejoicing. If it’s closer to 70%, we’d see how today’s cutbacks in staff, newsprint and even days of “daily” publication were intended to anticipate permanent advertising decline. 

I’lldoff my cap to Doctor’s energetic suggestions that US local newspapers should focus on providing news-you-can-use.

Americans aren’t terrified, but they are shell-shocked. They need help as consumers, as parents, as employees, as job seekers. That’s an unprecedented opportunity for American newspapers to become more essential in their lives, mostly online and somewhat in print.

In a hostile market, this is a decent starting point. Doctor’s suggestions for “becoming more essential” are sketchy, but they’re worth thinking about.

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