John Morton and Miles Groves said their Morton Groves Newspaper Newsletter, read by publishers and investors, will shut down after 30 years, a victim of declining readership in a shrinking industry.
The March 15 issue is the last. Titled ``Passing the Inflection Point,'' the newsletter takes publishers to task for failing to adapt to readers' and advertisers' changing priorities. The analysts will continue their consulting work.
``A lot of newspaper companies began to disappear, and so did subscribers,'' Groves, 53, said today in an interview. ``I haven't had an upbeat celebratory forecast in a while. People get tired of hearing about another down year.''
The newsletter's declining readership reflects the changing fortunes of newspapers, which have lost subscribers and advertisers to the Internet. Industry consolidation, such as McClatchy Co. (MNI:US)'s $4.1 billion purchase of Knight Ridder Inc. last year, cut the newsletter's audience. Readership shrank ``from several hundred'' to about 150, Groves said.
The Morton Report, founded in 1976, provided commentary and information on the newspaper industry. The newsletter offered investors, academics and industry observers a source of information not tied to a Wall Street investment bank.
``I probably attended my first Morton conference in 1986,'' said Thomas Russo, a partner at the investment firm of Gardner Russo & Gardner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which manages more than $3 billion and owns shares of McClatchy, E.W. Scripps Co. and Washington Post Co.
The name was changed to the Morton Groves Newspaper Newsletter in 2000, when Groves, a former economist with the New York Times Co. (NYT:US) and Newspaper Advertising Bureau, joined Morton, 69, in publishing the newsletter.
The outlook for large market newspapers is ``especially brutal,'' the two write. Newspaper companies face demographic shifts and competition from the Internet, along with pressure from institutional investors who control more than 90 percent of the 13 largest publicly traded newspaper companies.
Smaller media companies, operating in markets where the Internet has less impact, still have time to adapt, they wrote.
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