Doing worse doesn't mean doing badly. Until recently, many newspapers had profit margins exceeding 30%. By 2008, the industry's average margin had fallen to the mid-teens. The speed and magnitude of this decline have resulted in wrenching changes in the way these historically stable businesses must operate.
The continuing drama shouldn't distract from real earnings power. Many newspapers still have almost double the profitability of other media sectors, such as movies, music and books -- which have long struggled to achieve margins of even 10%.