The news today on this side of The Atlantic is all about the new job figures and their possible impact on the Presidential race. But day after day the situation in Europe continues to worsen, especially in depressed countries such as Spain and Greece.
Lost in the news, I fear, is the impact the depressed economies are having on the news media overseas. On my recent trip to Greece I met with a number of media people who wanted to only talk about their prospects of employment in the States. Getting out was priority number one.
Several strikes have closed newspaper newsrooms lately. There was a 24-hour walk out late last month that shut down many newsrooms, and the Athens News has been hit twice by walk outs due to unpaid salaries.
Today came word of staff cuts at El País, the Madrid daily. Juan Luis Cebrian, the president of the parent company, said that falling advertising would necessitate the staff reductions.
"It's not a matter of wanting to improve profitability. The newspaper no longer can support its current cost structure," said Cebrian. "At a time when the Spanish democracy is under attack, El País must continue to play a key role."
"Either we change our model and periodic structure, or we can not keep publishing El País," said José Luis Sainz, director at the paper.
According to El País, the fall in advertising in the Spanish market is far more severe, 53 percent, than in other markets including the U.S.
For those involved in the new digital platforms, the hard hit economies are also depressing the growth of mobile and tablet projects. Several news veterans told me that it is extremely hard to convince media management to invest in new digital products at a time of declining advertising.
The talent pool in both Spain and Greece, not to mention other European countries such as Portugal, Italy and Ireland, is very deep – far deeper than many realize. Whether local news media companies will be able to hang on to its talent is an open question.
Update: Thanks to Roy Greenslade for pointing to the El País announcement. Greenslade also has another interesting news item:
The Brazilian newspaper Diário de Natal, which circulates in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, is ceasing to publish in print and will go online only.
The paper's owner, Diários Associados (Associated Newspapers), said the transition from print to screen was due to the paper's negative financial results over the last several years...