A Zogby poll
released last week shows that ” two thirds of Americans – 67% –
believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news.”
The same survey found that “two thirds (64%) are dissatisfied
with the quality of journalism in their communities.”
The culprit? Of course it’s the web. According to Zogby “nearly
a third (32%) said Internet sites are their most trusted source for
news and information, followed by newspapers (22%), television
(21%) and radio (15%).”
Having spent time in the small-town newspaper world and online
media, consider me utterly unsurprised: traditional print media is
Paper and printing costs are expensive. Distribution costs are
significant. Physical offices cost a lot of money. Good, motivated,
and affordable local writers are very hard to find.
Yes, it will take a while for those used to reading their daily
paper to make the switch to digital, but that day will come.
Computer interfaces will become more user-friendly and less taxing
on the eyes.
Cell phones with mini-projectors will allow for simple and
elegant web surfing anywhere. Vested local bloggers, photographers
and videographers will produce and aggregate much richer
information than a small team of paid reporters. Paper will go up
in price as the environmental costs are factored in.
Now, this does not mean that the companies that own newspapers
will necessarily go out of business. Rather, they’ll be converted
into social media companies with digital distribution.
The form of this distribution may even closely resemble that of
a traditional newspaper. New
electronic paper interfaces will perhaps offer a new way to
experience the same old thing. But no matter how it feels, that
will be a switch to digital distribution that saves the parent
company a hefty sum.
I agree with
Tech Crunch’s Duncan Riley when he predicts that “it will be a
long and slow death”, which he bases in large part on the fact that
“we’re already seeing massive across the board downsizing now in
In your opinion, which year will mark the widespread end of
paper and ink newspaper publishing in the U.S?
U.S. newspapers experienced their biggest one-year drop in
advertising revenue since 1950, and perhaps of all-time,
reports the Newspaper Association of America.
link buried at the bottom of a
biased press release touting a 19% increase in online
advertising for American newspapers (that also failed to mention
the largest decline in print advertising since anyone began
tallying the figures) reveals a spreadsheet that in turn reveals a
9.4% drop in traditional ad revenue. Of course, this figure dwarfs
the online gains and totally wipes out the slight progress the
industry made in the years following a 9.0% decline in 2001, the
The new stats reinforce the unsurprising notion that the
old-school newspaper companies must transition to new online ad
models or perish.
Adding insult to injury, another
report finds that 73% of journalists “sometimes or always use
blogs” in their research.
Editor & Publisher and Midas Oracle)
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has joined
the ranks of those predicting the near-term demise of print
In a recent Washington Post interview (see below), Ballmer
forecasts that, “In the next 10 the whole world of media,
communications and advertising are going to be turned upside down,
in my opinion.”
“There will be no media consumption left in 10 years that is not
delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers,
magazines that are delivered in paper form – everything get
delivered in electronic form,” he claims.
The reasoning behind this vision is rooted Ballmer’s belief that
“advertising, community and content [will] all kind of blend”,
resulting in a world in which we’re “going to have incredible
pieces of software that run out in the internet that know all about
the publishers that want to sell ads, all about the advertisers
that want to buy ads and all about the users who want to consume
content and advertising; and it sort of algorithmically puts them
together … and it gets smarter and smarter at delivering the right
ad at the right place at the right time. That’s a big business, we
Personally, I am in full agreement with this scenario, though I
do think that while they will seriously dwindle, some forms of
traditional print will still be around in 2018. But I think Ballmer
is spot-on in his argument that
newspapers and magazines will certainly be hard pressed to
continue their traditional existence(s).
Yesterday the New York Times Company announced that it has been so affected by the recent economic downturn that it may default on its debt. Coming on the heels of the worst advertising year for newspapers since 1950 things are not looking good for the typically stalwart American brand. With the prospect of more financial woes on the horizon, it is conceivable the company will be required to liquidate a significant portion of its assets come the new year.
On the flip side of the coin, this is also a great opportunity for management at the great American newspaper to guide it towards a more situationally appropriate new media model. As upstart blogs rake in the big bucks it’s about time the New York Times got hip to the times. With a bit of common sense and some luck they company will be able to avoid the sinister fate that awaits former giants such as GM.