Lee Enterprises Lost More Money in 3rd Quarter. Oh, and Paywalls Are Coming to "Nearly All Markets"

Categories: Post-Dispatches
Thumbnail image for mary junck.jpg
Mary Junck, CEO of Lee Enterprises.
Lee Enterprises announced a third-quarter loss of only $1.5 million, which is down quite a bit from the losses of $155 million in the same quarter of the previous year. Successfully pushing that decimal point two places to the left means that shares only lost three cents of their value in the third quarter this year, as opposed to the loss of $3.46 per share in the same time frame last year. Of course, you can only lose so much value before you hit zero, right?

In other financial news for the Post-Dispatch's parent company, Lee's operating venue dropped 4.3 percent, a sign of the industry-wide drop in print advertising revenue. But don't worry, Lee CEO Mary Junck has a plan.

Can you say "digital subscriptions?"

In an official statement, Junck touted the success of Lee's slow roll-out of digital subscriptions, a.k.a. online paywalls,  in the 52 markets in which it has newspapers:
"We introduced digital subscriptions in 11 more markets during the quarter, for a total of 17 so far, and expect nearly all of Lee's 52 markets to follow by the end of the calendar year."
Digital advertising continues to grow for Lee, so from a business standpoint, trying to monetize their online content makes sense. For the year to date, Lee's digital advertising revenue has increased 10.1 percent. Print revenue on its own decreased 7.7 percent in the same time frame. In an interesting coincidence, Lee's average number of full-time or equivalent employees is down by a similar figure of 7.4 percent for the year-to-date.

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"Only" a loss of $1.5 M in the 3rd Qtr. Take back the outrageous and undeserved $500K  bonus Junk was given last year and apply that to the losses. As I have said on numerous other occasions, Lee's stockholders should revolt and move to have Junk and Lee's  board of directors fired and replaced with people smart enough to turn Lee into a viable enterprise. Perhaps Bain Capital could save this abysmal corporation from certain death. But then again, if Junk remains in control not even Bain could save Lee Enterprises. Junk is to her stockholders as Bernie Madoff was to his investors - they  both belong in prison.

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