Advertising at U.S. newspapers fell 7.4 percent in the third quarter, the Newspaper Association of America reported today. Online newspaper advertising increased 21 percent to $773 million, compared with the same period for 2006. Online advertising still trails print advertising revenues of $10.1 billion, but now comprises 7.1 percent of the industries revenue.

The AP story highlights that newspapers are taking some hits because of declines in the housing market but they are they are seeing big movement in classified ad dollars going to websites run by real estate brokers and help wanted postings at places like Craigslist.

What’s this mean for lawyers publishing content to the net? Newspapers are going to have a very difficult time maintaining their workforce of reporters and editors. No matter the rapid growth in advertising on newspapers online, the revenues will never make up for print advertising losses.

In order to survive newspapers are going to become online information centers, something the largest US newspaper publisher, Gannett, already said it would do. User generated content from non-newspaper employees will play an integral role in these online papers.

Lawyers publishing content on niche areas of the law via their blogs are going to find their content syndicated to online newspapers. The exposure lawyers will receive, the reputation enhancement, and the goodwill generated thereby is going to be tremendous.

Pipe dream that this is going to happen? Look at where the Internet and blogs were 4 years ago.