Peter Kafka

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New York Times Says Print Ads Getting Less Bad, Web Ads Bouncing Back

newspaperlessA little holiday cheer from the New York Times (NYT), which says things are getting less miserable than they have been for the publisher.

This is all relative, of course: The publisher says Q4 prints ads are likely to be down 25 percent, which would be a bummer just about anywhere but the newspaper business. But last quarter, print was down 31.2 percent, and overall ad revenue was down 26.9 percent, so an improvement is an improvement.

The uptick at the Times’s digital business, however, looks more straightforward. CEO Janet Robinson says online ads will be up 10 percent this quarter, a big turnaround from last quarter’s 8.2 percent decline.

Robinson says that both the paper’s display ads, as well as its About.com content mill, are improving, but didn’t spell out the performance for each unit. Last quarter, About.com was already turning around, having posted a 7.2 percent revenue bump. But traditional Web advertising was down 18.5 percent.

None of the improvements, though, will be enough to prevent the Times from having to hack away at its cost structure. The publisher’s flagship paper is cutting 100 newsroom positions and will spend $50 million on severance charges this year.