August 1, 2009

More bad news for Lee

This has not been a good year for Lee Enterprises. That’s the company that owns the Rapid City Journal, Chadron (NE) Record, and the Hot Springs (SD) Star, among many others. Their most visible property is the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Lee this week (7/30/09) reported a loss of $24.5 million during the last fiscal quarter. Its advertising is off more than 24% from last year, and circulation is down by more than six percent.

The company is based in Davenport, Iowa.

In earlier postings about Lee, we noted that they were going through many of the same kinds of problems being encountered by virtually all of the newspaper industry. There were layoffs at many of their properties in Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana.

We paid $2.00 for a Wall Street Journal yesterday and observed that USA Today, the Gannett property started by South Dakotan Al Neuharth, now goes for $1.00 a copy. These hefty newsstand prices do little to offset the record losses being endured by papers across the country.

Leveraging new acquisitions on the backs of papers that are doing well has been a common woe among several big newspaper chains – including Lee Enterprises. It’s something of a “local” chain, and we’re sorry they’ve fallen victim to this trend.

We love newspapers and hope Lee is able to fend off its own demise. But the prognosis is not good.

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