Newspapers… Dying or Evolving?

08Jul09

Below is a blog post from Richard Ponser, contemplating the future of print newspapers.

“Newspaper ad revenues fell by almost 8 percent in 2007, a surprising drop in a non-recession year (the current economic downturn began in the late fall of that year), and by almost 23 percent the following year, and accelerated this year. In the first quarter of 2009 newspaper ad revenues fell 30 percent from their level in the first quarter of 2008. This fall in revenue, amplified by drops in print circulation (about 5 percent last year, and running at 7 percent this year–and readership is declining in all age groups, not just the young), have precipitated bankruptcies of major newspaper companies and, more important, the disappearance of a number of newspapers, including major ones, such as the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Falling revenues have led to layoffs of some 20,000 employees of the remaining newspapers.

As a result, print journalism has come to be regarded as a dying profession. Online viewership and revenues have grown but not nearly enough to offset the decline in ad revenues. Even the most prestigious newspapers, such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and USA Today, have experienced staggering losses. News, as well the other information found in newspapers, is now available online for nothing, including at the websites of the newspapers themselves, who thus are giving away content. The fact that online viewing is rising as print circulation is falling indicates a shift of consumers from the paid to the free medium. The economic downturn has doubtless accelerated the trend, but economic recovery is unlikely to reverse it.”

But the real question here, is are newspapers dying or evolving? Perhaps they seem like one in the same right now, but I can’t help but wonder if there is a way for newspapers to change their revenue model and profit from this dramatic shift. So I ask you…Are newspapers a dying breed or an evolving media form that is in need of a dramatic strategy shift?

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