Last year, the Independent surrendered to the weight of its ever-shrinking print readership and turned off the printers for good, trusting the future of the publication with its online audience.
In the past, newspapers were known to hold companies and indeed governments to account. Today, their numbers are vastly depleted. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half of the jobs within the news industry have disappeared in the last 15 years.
There’s been a steady decline of 2% for print newspapers for a rather long time, so what has changed? What has caused the breakneck speed of print publications losing their readers? What one thing has grown so exponentially in the past 15 years to become an intrinsic part of everyone’s life? It’s the internet, and online subscriptions such as https://proefabonnementkrant.com/telegraaf/of course.
Where’s the evidence?
The effects of the internet on printed publications can be further seen when we look to other pieces of evidence. You see, it isn’t just the rich world newspapers that have suffered the change. Across the western world, newspapers and magazines alike have felt the shift towards online media.
Celebrity gossip mags like Hello and Closer have seen their readership fall and fall, while music reviewing mag NME has also suffered the changing winds. Meanwhile, in the developing world, where a steady internet connection is more a luxury than an expected right, the newspaper still reigns supreme over digital news. In fact, readership figures for print publications in India are booming.
The Effects of Advertising
Most revenue generated by a magazine comes from its advertising. This is especially true for the free dailies, who rely solely on advertising revenues to finance their business.
For the publishers, this only doubles the pressure. They no longer have to focus on holding onto their readership for dear life, they’ve also got to worry about financing their efforts.
But the advertisers are too busy chasing readers out to the door. According to the Pew Research Center, this is an inevitable truth for the news industry. In 2005, advertising revenues generated by printed papers in the US topped $50bn.
Ten years later, figures had fallen to $20bn. In contrast, the revenues created from newspaper websites grew from $2bn to $3.5bn. It’s a sharp decrease for print and a small victory for the web, but the numbers are indeed there.
So why have advertisers chosen to throw in their lot with digital media? The first reason that springs to mind is consumer matching. For an advertiser, the internet is bursting with information about customers.
That’s because everything we do on the internet is recorded. Google will kindly track your browser history for you, recording the sites that you’ve visited, how often you’ve done so and how long you’ve spent on each site per session.
Creating user profiles on news websites (and indeed other sites) provides data about your age, your location and perhaps your interests. Advertisers are then able to collate all of this data to find out:
- The demographics of the people who normally purchase their products.
- Where to find more of these people so they can be tempted to buy their products.
Web users have become so accustomed to this personalised form of advertising that it’s almost expected. For an advertiser, this is the holy grail. They no longer need to place expensive adverts in newspapers and presume their efforts are making a difference. Now, sellers and buyers can be brought together, and every checkout completion can be traced.
What do the readers want?
Simply put, they want to the news and they want it now. The internet is full of real-time action. You can stream videos live, update people on your location and fight with strangers in 140 characters or less. With everything being so readily available at everyone’s fingertips, it stands to reason that the news should follow suit.
No longer are we waiting for days to find out about a sign being stolen for the village hall or that there was an accident on the motorway last week. Everything is available as it’s happening. In turn, this has led to an increase in journalism.
Well, sort of. Now, everyone with a keyboard can share the news. It causes a lot of slander and bias to leak into reporting, but newspapers are often associated with political parties or owned by conglomerates, so the bias is hardly something new.
Readers also want their news for free. Millennials in particular, it seems, have grown accustomed to having access to so much information, that they no longer deem the news worthy of being paid for. Some printed publications have cottoned onto this trend, and have changed their business model to centre around the free dailies.
These have remained popular, with 22 million copies distributed worldwide and read by 45 million people every day. However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for these print papers, with a string of lawsuits filed against them in Europe. Covering everything from littering concerns to the right for the Metro to be distributed through public transport, the attack on print is ceaseless.
What is the future of news reporting?
Although print newspapers are on the decline, it is hard to imagine that they will disappear completely. Some believe it’s simply impossible, with the likes of John S. Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times reporting “Newspapers are doing the reporting. George and Yahoo! Aren’t those people putting reporters on the street in any number.
Blogs can’t afford it.” Simply put, the decline in newspapers means a decline in reliable and researched news. Although newspapers may suffer from a dwindling readership, it is other mediums of news reporting that rely on these companies for their facts and figures. So how do we finance the people putting in the hard graft? “It is the fundamental problem facing the industry” says newspaper analyst, Moreton. Hopefully we will have an answer soon.