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More Good News For American Newspapers (South American, That Is)

It’s what passes for good news these days in American print journalism: circulation at American newspapers shrunk less rapidly during the six months ending March 31 than it did in the six months before that, according to the AP.

But if I were bleeding profusely after, say, a swordfight, and then began bleeding less profusely, would that be good news? Or would it would mean I was simply running out of blood to lose?

Here’s what good news looks like:

You can’t Google translate a jpg, and I can’t link to it online because Folha de Sao Paulo places its articles behind a paywall (hmm...), so a translation: “Newspaper advertising grows in the country: Study predicts spending should expand 11.6% this year, after rise of 1% in 2009." 

Magazine advertising should grow 8.5%, said the study, which is from Zenith Optimedia. (For just $600, you can check out their forecasts for countries around the world.)

Not that there’s no internet in Brazil, or that internet advertising isn’t growing too. In fact, it’s exploding, with internet advertising revenue predicted to grow 29.2% in 2010. And yet I’m still removing section after section of classifieds from my Sunday Folha de Sao Paulo or Estadao. Sometimes it gives me flashbacks to pre-Craigs List America.

I don’t think the reasons are that much different from what they were when I wrote last year about the newspaper business’s healthy 2008 numbers (that 1% growth in 2009 was a financial crisis-related aberration). But it is odder than ever to hang out with journalists here – print journalists, even – who talk about raises, promotions, and job openings without the slightest sense of irony. I’m advising a new men’s magazine, Alfa, that will launch in August from Brazil’s most prestigious magazine publisher, Editora Abril, and plans to attract an upscale male readership into the six figures. No one thinks such a launch is in the least bit crazy.

(OK, before anyone gets too jealous or rushes to sign up for Portuguese classes, starting salaries for reporters even at the prestigous Folha are around $15,000 a year.)

Inevitably, the day will come when Brazilian newspapers and magazines will have to contend with the flight of advertising to the internet. But by then – five, ten years from now? – they will be able to look to the frantic period of trial and error American and European media companies and entrepreneurs are going though now, and pick and choose from the models that worked.