”Young people aren't interested in the types of subjects they treat,” he said.
Still, a new crop of free dailies with a European presence appears to be bridging the generation gap, although the advertising revenues that power them have fallen sharply with the economic crisis.
They include 20 Minutes, now a staple for mass-transit commuters in major French cities, with a circulation of about 780,000 nationwide, says company President Pierre-Jean Bozo.
”We're trying to reinforce a readership of the under-50s that's young, urban and active, by information in the Anglo-Saxon way - facts, facts, facts,” Mr. Bozo says. “It's not a la Francaise, where there's too much analysis.”
20 Minutes' print and Internet editions have spinoffs in seven French cities, and Mr. Bozo describes a print-free future that includes delivering news on next-generation mobile phones.
“Why not?” he asks. “We're capable of sliding from one format to another.”
There are other scattered success stories. Berlin's Bild daily is going strong, with about 12 million readers and profits at record highs - thanks partly to partnering with German Internet service provider Deutsche Telekom to go online at reduced rates. It has also raised its newsstand price.
And in Sweden, Web site VG Nett is generating money from advertisers, and most recently from users through innovative offers involving such things as joining a weight-loss club.
“It doesn't sound like a traditional newspaper role, but it's an example of companies trying everything they can and continuing with what works,” Mr. Kilman said.
Still, he noted, Nordic dailies as a whole have an edge because roughly 90 percent of adults of all ages there read newspapers. In the Netherlands, NRC Handelsblad has launched a spinoff targeting a younger audience, nrcnext.nl, which is going strong, Mr. Kilman says.
Other newspapers are beginning to make money off their digital platforms. Still, he thinks, the old-fashioned daily remains a vital part of the news mix. “Print remains the money generator, the news generation of these different operations,” he said. “And we think it's going to stay that way for a while.”