pleaes i need you to summarize this article. I need it to be 100 words please. Thanks, It was a chilly late-February morning in Manhattan, and Philadelphia Media Holdings was about to announce a Chapter 11 bankruptcy involving its two major daily papers in that city. The Journal Register Co., publisher of 20 dailies, had done the same thing a day earlier. Other companies were in the midst of cutbacks, trimming staff or instituting furloughs. Several prominent papers seemed on the verge of shuttering forever. But for Walter Anderson, CEO, chairman and former top editor of Parade, such industry news didn’t faze him a bit. Still committed to his favorite medium — and laying out plans for several future writing projects after he leaves the Advance Publications property — Anderson declared passionately that both newspapers and Parade faced better days ahead. “The biggest myth is that newspapers are dead,” Anderson, 64, emphasized during a chat in his sixth-floor corner office, overlooking Third Avenue in midtown Manhattan. “It is a preposterous exclamation. Nothing gives authority like newspapers.” Anderson should know. The former editor and general manager of several Gannett New York papers ran Parade for 20 years as editor before becoming CEO nearly 10 years ago. He announced in February he would step down, but is staying on until a replacement is found. The author of many books and involved in television and other media projects, Anderson is in the process of completing two plays, and has a novel in the works. But newspapers have attracted the majority of his interest for the past four decades. He says that experience has taught him that the daily miracle may be down, but not out. “This year it is starting out very poorly, and I suspect it is going to end better because newspapers work,” Anderson says, leaning forward in his chair. “Newspapers are the single most effective medium yet invented to sell consumer goods and services.” To help support that claim, Anderson pulls out data from a report Parade sponsored based on 2006 and 2007 advertising impact on numerous products. It claims sales increased by an average of 17% for products advertised in the Sunday supplement those years, citing Campbell’s Soup with a 31% boost and Land O’Lakes Butter by 22%. Although that data stems from Parade ads, Anderson says it reflects newspapers in general because anyone who is reading his product is getting it in a newspaper. “Parade cannot raise product sales unless someone buys a newspaper,” he notes. “Newspapers have been so focused on the loss of classified, and being down in national [advertising], many of them have lost confidence in what they really are — the most effective means created to move product.” He also blames newspapers for being too quick to give away free content on the Web. “I would not be surprised if five years from now, newspapers are compensated [for formerly free material],” he says. “The challenge that newspapers have is that their audience is increasing, not decreasing. But they have chosen to allow their valuable content to be distributed free. In their enthusiasm for the production and technology of the Web, a natural consequence was an attempt to duplicate the newspaper business model on to the Web.” Anderson says he is leaving Parade of his own choice and to pursue myriad other interests, even beyond writing. A licensed charter captain, he shows off a photo of his New England championship boating team, as well as one of him with a 53-pound Striper, one of his many fishing triumphs. He is also a major advocate for literacy programs, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and other educational endeavors. “Over the years, I have been the most fortunate person I have ever known,” he says. A look around his spacious office shows many artifacts of his years at Parade, among them photos with MDA chairman Jerry Lewis, former Gannett honcho Al Neuharth, and a framed letter from David Halberstam extolling Anderson’s editorial kindness to writers. Books by Howell Raines, Larry King and recently deceased Parade columnist James Brady line the shelves, along with numerous bits of Parade paraphernalia. Sharing Anderson’s positive view of newspapers is an even rosier prediction for his magazine. “Parade has an extremely talented leadership, a great editor in Janice Kaplan, a great publisher and all of the bases are strong,” he declares. “Each and every department is filled with competent and skilled professionals. Parade is poised for the future, and that includes a recovery in the economy, which certainly will occur. Not whether, but when.” Recent data seems to support his contention that Parade and USA Weekend are getting stronger, at least in readership. While Parade declines to share information on its ad revenue, it reveals it has added more than 100 newspapers in the past four years, growing from 370 in 2006 to 475 this year. Total circulation, however, is down slightly in that time, from 33.9 million to 33 million –although it did get a boost in the past year when it was down as low as 32.2 million one year prior. USA Weekend, meanwhile, saw its circulation and newspaper numbers, however, increasing in that same time period. Its number of newspapers rose from 604 in 2005 to 650 this year, growing total circulation from 22.7 million to 23.2 million. Anderson says the newspaper supplement business will do even better in the coming years, as the climate for newspapers improves: “I believe Parade will do well, and USA Weekend will do well. There is no reason that the field as a field will disappear. Quite the contrary, Parade will become more valuable.” He adds that the newspaper supplement, as an entity, “provides stories and pictures that people want to read. It does not replace newspapers, it supplements newspapers. It is one more reason to read newspapers.” With newspapers cutting back, he maintains, reliance on Parade and USA Weekend and others will increase. “The form that takes may also evolve as newspapers evolve, I think more and more news-papers will be seeking Parade,” he adds. On what should newspaper execs place their focus, to spark the turnaround he predicts? Anderson replies that they need to emphasize the two top values of newspapers: the selling element, and the accuracy and credibility that papers have over any other news medium. Like many others, Anderson traces the current climate of newspaper problems back to the pre-Web era, and the trend of family-owned dailies being sold to corporations, often because of the Estate Tax. The likes of the Chandlers, de Youngs, and most recently the Bancrofts have all handed over their papers to corporations. He notes, “Families that owned newspapers were obliged to sell them, they sold them to groups. Sometimes they sold them to private companies, sometimes to public companies. Sometimes they sold them to private companies that became public companies. “It seemed a pretty good bet, because newspapers, like real estate, would increase in value,” he adds. “With this, some other things occurred. The CEO of any company has four major constituents — customers, employees, vendors and shareholders. They are never regarded equally. Whichever becomes the priority affects the other three in the future of the company.” He adds, “If you looked at newspapers that existed in 1935, and you asked what was their priority, how many would say ‘maximizing shareholder value?'” Anderson asks. “Newspapers became profit centers. These concepts changed the priority of what the newspaper is. It is not unique to newspapers, and it is neither good or bad. It is business.” Somewhere along the line, he says, “many of us in the newspaper business became accustomed to success. Some-where along the line we assumed everybody — our advertisers and our readers — knew what we knew, that newspapers were the single most effective international medium ever created.” The severe staff cuts of late are not welcome, but he doesn’t consider them a death knell, either: “You still make profits, but you have this [debt] note. The short-term solution for many of the companies is to restructure debt.” Chapter 11, he says, is reasonable for some companies. Bankruptcy protection is not the end, he suggests, but rather a way to keep going until the economy rebounds: “They will survive, and will still be the single most effective medium for selling goods and services.” Anderson admits not every daily paper is going to succeed. “Is it possible that newspapers could fail profoundly?” he asks. “I think individual [papers] will fail in the process, but because newspapers are such a good idea, newspapers will prevail.” When asked what a newspaper in 10 or 20 years will look like, he says, “It will be more convenient, it will be smaller. I don’t think the answer is for newspapers to go all-Web. Web is part of the experience, but doing either/or could be a prescription for failure.” He expresses faith in many of those running today’s big newspaper companies, citing Gary Pruitt, Mary Junck, Katharine Weymouth and Steven Swartz: “There is professional and powerful leadership in the newspaper business. Newspapers are such a good idea, if they divest and go into other areas, they will profit. They have to be careful about losing their best people, but they have to make profits, and they can.” In fact, Anderson believes the current climate will do well toward educating newspaper leaders about how best to handle the future: “The newspaper publishers and editors that grow out of this economic decline will be further appreciative of the true value of the readers and the advertisers.” By Joe Strupp
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