Analysts and employees have been saying it for years now, as cutbacks and buyouts grew and ad pages shrunk. David Simon shoved it down the throats of HBO viewers for months this year. A few weeks ago, Tribune CEO Sam Zell joined his fellow newspaper publishers on the rooftops of their faltering media conglomerates and began yelling "fire," and now the Newspaper Association of America has settled it — the death of the print newspaper is upon us. New data released by the NAA indicates that total print-advertising revenue in 2007 plummeted 9.4 percent, to $42 billion, over 2006, making it the most severe decline in expenditures since 1950. We usually prefer to avoid agreeing with media pundit Eric Alterman as much as humanly possible, but now there's just nothing for it — Alterman's piece in this week's New Yorker was not only well-timed, it was spot-on, the louse. This spring, a $450 million sarcophagus for the press, the drippily named Newseum, will open in Washington, D.C., and, while that's very sweet and all, Alterman is the first person we've heard mention that it's a little impolitic to bury something while it's supposedly still breathing. Not to mention that it's generally considered déclassé to pre-eulogize anything with a big, sumptuous half-billion-dollar feast while it's still standing right next to you, starving to death. Sigh. Online numbers are finally beginning to slow down, too, which sounds like it would be good news for print operations (take that, Craig Newmark!), except that since Web ads now make up 7.5 percent of total newspaper revenue, it really just means that everyone's screwed. Oh, well. Perhaps things will start looking up over the weekend!
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