The bailout cometh.

Ad revenue at the publisher’s New York Times Media Group, which includes the Times newspaper, fell 21.2 percent from a year earlier because of a drop in real estate and jobs classified advertising…

The Times is considering selling some of its properties, but has not yet said which ones.

Internet ad revenue, long a source of hope among newspaper publishers battered by falling print ad sales and circulation, dropped 4 percent in the news media group. That reflects a decline in online jobs and real estate ads.

The last paragraph may hold a clue as to why I’m greeting this news less with schadenfreude than anxiety. I linked Riehl’s post the other day about the Times possibly going bust this year if property values sink far enough that they can’t leverage their holdings sufficiently to cover their current debt, but it’s worth a re-link under the circumstances. As is this New Yorker piece on the demise of newspapers, also via Riehl:

The peculiar fact about the current crisis is that even as big papers have become less profitable they’ve arguably become more popular. The blogosphere, much of which piggybacks on traditional journalism’s content, has magnified the reach of newspapers, and although papers now face far more scrutiny, this is a kind of backhanded compliment to their continued relevance. Usually, when an industry runs into the kind of trouble that Levitt was talking about, it’s because people are abandoning its products. But people don’t use the Times less than they did a decade ago. They use it more. The difference is that today they don’t have to pay for it. The real problem for newspapers, in other words, isn’t the Internet; it’s us. We want access to everything, we want it now, and we want it for free. That’s a consumer’s dream, but eventually it’s going to collide with reality: if newspapers’ profits vanish, so will their product.

Does that mean newspapers are doomed? Not necessarily. There are many possible futures one can imagine for them, from becoming foundation-run nonprofits to relying on reader donations to that old standby the deep-pocketed patron.

More people now get their news from the ‘Net than from print, but the galaxy of competitors online means ad revenue’s necessarily going to be thinner, especially in a recession. Gulp.

Current share price of the Times: $5.99. We should start a pool to pick the date when their stock will cost less than a copy of the paper. Exit question: Deep pockets, influence with nonprofits — did the New Yorker just come up with a fallback career for Princess if this whole Senate thing doesn’t work out?

Tags: New York