And newspapers are to blame for their own inevitable screwing, Newmark told the Newspaper Association of America. Editor & Publisher covered Newmark's remarks:
Newmark doesn't feel guilty about the ongoing shift of classified dollars away from the medium. While he is a champion of more investigative reporting in newspapers -- which he admits costs money to fund -- he wasn't going to let the crowd boo-hoo about revenue woes. He deftly mentioned newspapers' high profit margins -- somewhere in the ballpark of 10% to 20% -- as proof there is plenty of money to feed investigative journalism and the newsroom. "I don't understand what the problem is," he said.
"People like Helen Thomas need backup," he said.
Newmark's blast, while refreshing, is far from new. The first time we heard it was in December 1990, when Geneva Overholser, then running the Des Moines Register, was named Gannett's editor of the year. As best editor Overholser got to give a speech at the company's annual dinner, and God bless her, she let 'em have it.
Gannett was making huge bucks, she noted. The Register's profits rose sharply after Gannett bought it in 1985 -- from about $6 million to $20.5 million just three years later. Why not settle for a little less profit for shareholders, and invest a little more in stakeholders?
"Here's my dream for the next risk-taking, history-making endeavor: Let Gannett show how corporate journalism can serve all its constituencies in hard times. As we sweat out the end of the ever-increasing quarterly earnings, as we necessarily attend to the needs and wishes of our shareholders and our advertisers, are we worrying enough about the other three? About our employees, our readers, and our communities?"