Financial pages are full of developments and changes at newspaper companies and these are being commented upon anxiously by those in the industry. Unpleasant conditions certainly abound, but these development are not indications that the industry is dead or dying in the near future. What they signal is that things which worked in the past are not working now, that newspaper companies are badly in need of restructuring, refocusing, and renewal, and that the boards of the companies and the company managers are taking badly needed action.

The techniques for restructuring are no mystery. First, you need some cash. This can be obtained by attracting new capital through investment or loans. New York Times Co. did this recently by borrowings $250 million from Carlos Slim. Other firms are looking for friendly investors with liquidity.

Another way of raising cash is by turning assets into cash. A classic move made by many types of firms is the sell their building and lease back any space that is needed. Media General and New York Times Co. are currently employing this tactic. Financially troubled companies can also be expected to shed some of their poorest or best performing holdings to raise cash, so it is likely that we will see a number of newspapers companies putting papers up for sale in the near future.

Reducing and restructuring existing debt lessens financial performance pressures on companies. To accomplish it, they use cash that is raised to pay obligations imminently due or to make early partial payments to debt holders in exchange for obtaining better interest rates or lengthening payment terms. Watch for such transactions in the coming months.

As part of restructuring, many newspaper-based companies will seek to refocus on core news and informational activities, divesting non-core activities to raise cash. Baseball teams, holdings in cable systems, advertising service firms, and other types of peripheral companies are being sold or considered for sale.

Few newspaper company executives have experience restructuring and reorganizing their firms to make them leaner and more efficient or strong financial management background. The current environment requires different managerial skills so many newspaper firms will be looking outside the industry for experience. GateHouse Media, for example, has now hired a chief financial officer with a financial management background at companies including PayCheck, NCR , and PriceWaterhouse.

Expect to see multiple actions throughout the industry that are parts of the restructuring of newspaper companies in the coming month. Some will be painful, but will have two effects. First, it will lessen the financial pressures of the debt many companies are carrying. Second, it will force them to rethink their newspapers and the value and quality they are or aren’t providing.

Import Export Business And The Economy


I am going to order your program next month, but I was wonder, if the economy is such a crappy mess, is Import/Export Business hard to get into?


Thanks for the opportunity to answer your question. It is one that
I thought I had answered this question in one of my blog posts but
upon reviewing it this morning it does not appear that I have done so.

I will try to keep my answer from getting political, but it is difficult
not to reference some of the reasons our economy is in the mess
it is in.

First, let me address your basic question. Is the Import Export
business hard to get into?

The quick answer to your question is Yes, it is a hard business
to succeed in whether the economy is good or bad.

In fact, it is hard to succeed at any business at any time and
the economy does play a role in how difficult it will be and
right now, it is much, much more difficult to succeed in ANY

The fact that this business, or any business, is difficult to
succeed at is a fact the "hype" masters of the Internet and
opportunity magazines seem to ignore. It can best be summed
up in a Chinese proverb I just posted last night in our
Import Export business blog - the proverb is this -

“Fish see the bait, but not the hook. Men see the profit, but not the peril.”

International trade or trade between businesses in different
countries has been going on since the beginning of mankind.

There have always been obstacles placed in front of them and
these obstacles can be in the form of mountains, rivers, oceans,
thieves, and the biggest thief and obstacle of all, governments.

Governments create obstacles whether through the manipulation
of their economies or supposed protection of the industries
within their borders from less expensive goods coming in and
threatening the status quo.

Governments try to regulate things that most often will work
their way through, if the government would just let their hands
off of it in the first place.

We human beings have a tendency to believe that the persons
making up our governments have a better understanding of how
business should be run than the people who are actually working
in that business, yet most government employees and elected
officials have "never" run a profitable business.

And the people who make up our governments are just as
subject to greed and envy as all human beings and in some
instances I believe they are more subject to it.

Sorry, I am getting off on a rant here but in regards to starting
your business, you must decide if the Import Export business
is really what you want to do. It is not a hyped up business
"opportunity", it is a serious business and what our course
offers is "training" on how to start that type of business.

If you are serious about starting an import export business,
then do not wait around for the economy to turn, get started
learning what you need to know to succeed now. Then when
the economy finally does turn around, you will be that much
ahead of everyone else who sat on their hands waiting for
an imagined government solution.

One of the biggest obstacles to international trade, right
now, is financing or letters of credit.

Banks no longer trust each other, both within the USA and
from one country to another and this means you or a
manufacturer you work with as an agent or broker is going
to have a much more difficult time getting a buyer to get
a letter of credit and secondly have the manufacturer's
bank accept that letter of credit (loc).

The course will discuss financing options and where you
or the manufacturer can go to get financing if that is the
only method by which a buyer can make a purchase.

There are other alternatives to financing depending upon
the amount of the purchase. Credit cards often have a
line of credit large enough for a buyer to make the purchase
if an loc is not an accepted solution. Direct bank wire
transfers are still another option.

If a buyer really has a market for the product(s) you are
helping a manufacturer sell, the buyer will find a way of
paying for them.

So the bottom line, in answer to your original question,
is YES it is more difficult today than just a few months ago
but if you are serious about your interest in this business,
then begin learning the "how to" now and you will be in
a much better position to capitalize on the turnaround
once it comes.

If you make the decision to get started now, do not wait
for a turnaround, begin looking at markets that are still
moving goods. Food is a commodity that will always
be needed and the USA still leads the world in food

In finishing this LONG answer to a SHORT question,
let me cite how difficult trade can be and then begin to
think about how much easier a path you have than
the following example.

Over the past weekend there was an episode of the
show "Globetrotter" on one of the PBS stations. I
missed the first part of it but saw enough to impress
me on how easy our lives and businesses have it
in comparison to other people in the world.

The 'globetrotter' on this episode was a young lady who
(when I picked up the show) was walking across a barren
desert in an African country (I think it was part of the

She had joined a trader's caravan from a desert oasis
where they grow fruits and vegetables. The people and
their camels were walking across the desert as these people
have done for thousands of years to take their goods to
a city where they would trade their goods for "salt".

The salt is required for both the people and their animals
due to the intense desert heat.

Most of the people in the caravan were walking and the
narrator stated how they would cover 50-60 miles a day!

I think they said it was a 17 day round trip and the city
where they traded their goods for salt was about 600 miles
from their oasis.

Once they got to the city, they made their trades and
loaded 4 very heavy pillars of salt on the camels and
began their journey back to their oasis.

This is what these people have been doing for thousands
of years and in my humble opinion, nothing that is currently
facing us in regards to the economy even comes close to
the hardships these 'traders' face on a continual basis.

So, yes, it will be more difficult to succeed in the import
export business today than just 6 months ago, but if this
is the business you wish to pursue, then you need to make
the decision that once you learn the "how to" that nothing
is going to stop you which brings up another proverb or
old saying I once heard many years ago.

"Let the dogs bark but the caravan moves on"

You can liken that to the first caravan that ever made that
long, hot and fateful journey across the Sahara. There
were probably more people telling them it would fail than
succeed but in the end, the caravan left those barking dogs
behind and moved on.

Hope this helps you make a more informed decision.

*** There was a brief follow up to the above answer that I
remembered a few days later that I had intended to include,
that additional answer is as follows:

Just wanted to follow up with you since there was one other
comment I wanted to include in the previous reply shown below.

It basically involves how in today's lousy economic environment
and a general distrust of investing your money with any
institution, the very best thing you can invest in is yourself.

Once you gain knowledge about a new subject, the investment
will last for a life time. No one can ever take it away from you
and the growth of that investment is solely dependent upon
you and the actions you take, not an investment advisor,
banker, etc..

So if there is any ONE place I would recommend for someone
to invest right now or for that matter, any time, is in educating

For further information about Import Export or other International
business resources, visit the International Business Help Center

and be sure to take your time looking around the 285 web pages
that make up this premier web site.

Ron Coble
Coble International Business Services


The bankruptcy filings of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Tribune Co. are cast by many as a sign of the continuing decline of the newspaper market. However, it is noteworthy that neither firm is owned by a company with a newspaper heritage, but by firms in the newspaper business primarily for financial gain. The Tribune’s owner is from the real estate business and the Star Trib’s is from private equity.

There is no doubt that the newspaper business is facing a difficult time now, but the business origins of the owners are important because their perceptions of bankruptcy, how the community will react, and how the company will be seen afterwards are colored by the norms and mores of those business fields.

Newspaper companies have long played special roles in communities, exercising social and political influence, and promoting corporate responsibility, accountability, and community standards. Publishers and editors have typically sat with the other civic leaders on boards and committees of chambers of commerce, community development organizations, foundations, and local offices of the United Way and the Better Business Bureau.

The roles and influence of newspaper executives were founded on their standing in the community and of perceptions of their respectability, community interest, and fiscal dependability. Newspaper publishers and editors would loathe any hint of financial instability or impropriety that would mar those views. The reputation of the newspaper and its brand were inextricably linked.

Newspaper companies have survived depressions, recessions, war, and all kinds of economic uncertainty in the past. They did so because they were financially solid companies with equity structures and balance sheets that allowed them survive very uncomfortable financial circumstances. Companies like the Tribune Co. and Star-Tribune are based on weaker foundations and come from cultures in which bankruptcy to reduce debts or abrogate contracts—hurting local businesses and their own employees--is just another business tool.

As I have previously discussed in this blog, there are a number of companies with long newspaper histories that are carrying significant debt or struggling with investors. It will be interesting to see how they handle their economic crises and the efforts they make avoid the stigma of bankruptcy. I suspect most will find other ways of dealing with their financial predicaments--unless they feel that the Star-Tribune and Tribune Co. choices have changed the norms for the entire industry.

Import Export Business Questions And Answers


Why would someone buy from me.

There are businesses out there, with a lot more talent for finding sources of products then I have right now.

They must have a network that would give them the resources, that I just found. What would prevent them from going to the same sources that your information provides me.


First I have a recommendation and it is meant in the kindest of way - you need to get more confidence in yourself before you ever begin even thinking about going into any kind of business.

We do not provide personal coaching or mentoring - a good book that I read about 29 years ago was titled "
The Magic of Thinking Big" - that book and a couple of the Dale Carnegie books helped to boost myconfidence which is something I think you need to do based on your email.

Once you make the step into a business, look at what you can do better than your competition. There will always be competition in every business, you cant run from it and you cant hide from it, it will find you.

If you are unsure of your abilities, start out by selling stuff on Ebay - you learn how to deal with people (customers), learn about shipping, customer service issues, etc. and you can do so basically free or for the low fees ebay charges you to sell there.

Here is a link to a web page in our site where you may download an ebook (no cost) about selling on ebay (I paid $29.99 for it about 6 years ago) it is now available to you at no cost:

Free eBay Auction Selling Book

I hope you will take my suggestions and follow through with them and once you have a greater confidence in yourself, move up one step at a time in business and instead of worrying about the competition, watch them, learn from them and see how you can do better than them.


I received my Import Export tool kit today and it all looks very good. I will be getting my office and stationery set up this week. What do you think of using a P.O.Box on business cards and letterhead?


The publisher of the toolkit has used a PO box since I first started working with them back about 15 years ago and it has not seemed to affect their business credibility.

The positives of using a PO box is not having people show up on your doorstep, unannounced, as I have over the years (I can think of at least 3 with one being on the afternoon of a July 4th during a family picnic).

Sometimes if the PO box is through a UPS mail center or place like that, you "used" to be able to use their street address with just a #111 behind it but after 9/11 I am not sure that is allowed any longer.

Again, I will defer back to our publisher, they have not encountered any problems that I am aware of so it would seem to not be detrimental to your credibility as I have always thought that it might.

You will have to weigh the options and make the decision yourself, as I stated above there are positives and negatives to both sides of the argument and making that decision is all part of you being in business - decisions, decisions.

Last, here is a little proverb I came across in a newsletter recently. It seems to be extremely applicable to most people when it comes to their thoughts of starting a business:

“Fish see the bait, but not the hook. Men see the profit, but not the peril.”
-- Chinese proverb


The announcement that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is being put up for sale—a legally required step before shutting down the paper because it is in a joint operating agreement—has stunned many of its journalists. Their reactions, in news stories and their own blogs, reflect the continuing state of denial that their profession exists within a news business affected by financial and economic forces. Or, at least, their belief that it should be immune from them.

It should comes as no surprise that Hearst Corp. is seeking to end publication of the P-I. Its joint operation with Seattle Times has been an unhappy marriage and it has not been financially effective for many years. Changes made in the agreement in recent years have been insufficient to turn the operation around and the paper and JOA operation have continued to be a financial drain on its participants.

A similar offer-for-sale-before-shutting-down process is underway in Denver, where the Rocky Mountain News is likely to cease publication because E.W. Scripps Company is no longer willing to continue bearing its losses.

Joint operating agreements have been seen by many in the industry as a way of keeping two newspapers operating within the same city, but JOAs have been a continual failure since they were authorized in 1970. The biggest problem is that JOAs ignore the basic economics of newspaper publishing and merely provide benefits from a newspaper antitrust exemption that allows collusion on advertising and circulation prices, market division, and other acts prohibited by federal law. Those benefits were never enough to “save” papers in the long run, but allowed publishers to gain a limited period of time to try to squeeze more money out of the operations.

The vast majority of troubled papers in the past 4 decades were never able to get the leading paper in their towns to enter a joint operating agreement and they ceased publication without one. Even the majority of those that entered JOAs saw one paper cease publication. Only 9 JOAs that publish two papers still remain in force and it looks like it will soon be 7.

Two years ago I published a scholarly article on how JOAs end and I warned that Seattle exhibited many of the negative conditions that were likely to lead to its demise. And that was before the economic downturn. Sometimes I hate getting things right.

Link to article Natural Death, Euthanasia, and Suicide: The Demise of Joint Operating Agreements


There is one upside to all the advertising disappearing from newspapers……Consumers can now really see what they are paying for.

Opps, that’s a BIG downside.

With the effects of economic downturn clearly hitting retailers everywhere, they have slashed their advertising budgets and are advertising as little as possible. For the first time in my lifetime it means you can turn several pages in many newspapers without seeing an advertisement. When I read the Boston Globe on Tuesday (January 7), it essentially had 2 pages of ads in the 10-page A section, 3 pages of ads in the 16-page B section, and 1 page in the 8-page C section. It had no ads on page 1 (although it has been announced they will start doing so soon) and the daily classified section is no longer being published on weekdays. What was left was editorial content. Unfortunately, what was there wasn’t pretty.

In reading the paper I realized that about half the stories were from news agencies and services and that I had read many of them day before on Yahoo! News and the New York Times and Washington Post websites. A number of the paper’s local stories were on the site or other Boston sites before they appeared in print. I am an avid news consumer and love the paper format, but the paucity of original and novel content left me wonder “Why am I still paying for the paper, especially when I have to call at least once a week because of delivery problems.”

I single out the Globe here, but the problem is everywhere I look at newspapers.

Publishers and editors just don’t get it. They have to stop pining that the old days were better and they have to stop blaming everything and everyone but themselves for the lack of value in their papers. What readers need—if they are going to keep buying papers—is content and an experience with news that they cannot get elsewhere. It has to be BETTER than that on TV, Internet, and mobile applications; it has to DIFFERENT than what they get from those sources; and it has to be news for those who LOVE news.

If editors and publishers don’t start delivering those qualities, they will soon have to stop delivering papers altogether.