Newspaper analyst Jim Chisholm was billed as having an optimistic outlook about the future of the press when he spoke at the Society of Editors annual conference today.
He has. But only up to a point.
Rather than predicting that 50 percent of newspapers could close over the next five years, as predicted by media analyst Claire Enders, Chisholm said today that he believed the figure was more likely to be around 10 per cent.
"Newspapers can decline a long way before they become unviable," he said. Chisholm added that the average profit margin for regional newspapers was 11.35% compared to 8.2% for the nationals, and 5.1% for Tesco.
He argued: "Our business does not have a profit problem it has a debt problem" and predicted that in five years newspapers would be making 50% more than they are now.
Chisholm also said the cost base of newspapers could still be cut in areas of pre-press, pagination and editorial production.
On a less positive note, Chisholm told the conference that the Birmingham Post, which has just switched from morning to weekly publication, "had been dead for 20 years" and described it as a "problem child". He also claimed it was "highly unlikely" the Independent would survive.