Jamaica Gleaner Sing The Blues Vows Online Increase

According to Jamaica entertainment blog Highlander,  The Jamaica-based Gleaner Company Ltd, the Caribbean oldest operating newspaper  “held its Annual General Meeting last week and reported to shareholders and analysts what they called their worst financial results in the company’s 175 year history, posting “a dramatic loss of JMD$444.69mm for 2008, coming from a profit of JMD$98.2mm in 2007.”

Factors leading to a decline in profits includes: “advertising which contributes 53% of total revenue, incurred a 7.3% decline due to shrinking advertising budgets.”

In addition a contractual agreement to provide textbooks to the Jamaician Government  in 2007 was  significantly reduced in 2008 having seen revenues fell by 16.9%. The only bright spot at the end of the tunnel was a 13.8% increase in Circulation (which comprises of about 20% of total Revenues) mainly driven by  increase prices.

The chickens are coming to roost. An except taken from a TechCrunch.com story reports on the languishing newspaper industry up North alone.

“Last year was the worst on record for the U.S. newspaper industry. Total advertising revenues (both print and online) declined 16.6 percent to $37.85 billion, according to the latest figures from the Newspaper Association of America. That is $7.5 billion less than in 2007. Print advertising alone declined 17.7. Classifieds were down 29.7 percent. And even online advertising was down 1.8 percent to $3.1 billion.”

Not to be left behind,

The Gleaner said that it has made significant investments to enhance its online presence in an attempt to supplement.” Christopher Barnes, Deputy Managing Director, then detailed the Gleaner’s online development in the Jamaican market. According to Barnes,1.5mm people or 53% of the country’s population regularly use the Internet, with18% of the population reading The Gleaner online repeatedly. He added that he expects the Gleaner’s online usage rate to double by the end of 2009,as newsreaders are moving away from the paper edition. He said further that the largest consumers of The Gleaner Online are based in the US with 53% of its total readers, ahead of Jamaica with 22%. The Update also reported that the company is now more focused on disseminating the news to its readers as soon as they get it. Such efforts include, creating a website platform specific for Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and actively updating social network websites, such as Twitter. Barnes also stated that its Power106 radio online streaming has seen a significant increase in usage.

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