Can the web save newspapers?

According to the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, once you've opened your mind to something, you begin to see it everywhere, or something like that. Well what has been happening to me lately about newspapers is similar, but not quite the same, I just can't seem to find what you might call this phenomenon, but I keep coming across articles that collectively paint a pretty shitty picture for newspapers. Some might call it the "law of attraction", but that, my friends, is way out of my league.

According to a new report by eMarketer, there are three converging trends that may provide some hope for newspapers, that is if they can stay in business long enough for the trends to actually converge. The first two trends explain all of the layoffs I recently told you about.

  1. Although two-thirds of Internet users surveyed in July 2008 said they still used print newspapers about as much as they did before they started visiting news sites, more than one-quarter said they were reading print less as a result, and that figure has grown during the past 5 years.
  2. Advertisers spent about 7% less last year with newspapers, at the same time that Internet ad spending saw healthy growth.
The third trend follows the logical conclusion of these two trends. If local news sites are getting more traffic and online advertising is increasing, then local news sites should benefit just as much as the next high traffic site. Which is exactly what is happening; local newspaper online ad revenues are predicted to reach $3.7 billion this year.

The problem?

The bad news is that this spending will not make up for print ad losses for some time, according to Lisa Phillips, senior analyst at eMarketer. Ms. Phillips noted that advertisers still pay more for print readers than for online readers. "This is a transition that will take several years," she said. "Local advertisers are paying attention to the shift in reader behavior, but it will take a while for everyone to adjust.

So the big question becomes: "Can newspapers stay in print until the new online ad spending catches up with the steady flow of blood (red)?" Regardless, one thing should be clear, as the Internet has gutted many other brick and mortar businesses, if newspapers do survive, they will have to become lean mean news machines; that is, until the Internet takes the eventual crown as the leading advertising destination for marketers.

Oh yeah, by the way, here's a damn interesting article about the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.



29 de julio de 2008, 11:25
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I am a journalist and have worked for several mainstream newspapers. I still freelance for print publications. But as a reader, I acknowledge I no longer spend my money buying newspapers. I read them online. I don't remember the last time I paid for a newspaper and I actually remember a time when I used to receive a home subscription.

I think part of the reason many of the United States mainstream newspapers are in trouble in many communities is because of their lack of strides in promoting diversity in the newsroom and being able to retain journalists of color.

The Internet has opened up the opportunity for other voices to be heard. You don't have to wait to see if your local paper decides to send a reporter or a photographer to cover your community anymore. You don't have to wait and see whether your letter to the editor makes the paper.

The Internet has given voiceless people a voice. I like that.

MC Don Dees

29 de julio de 2008, 12:05
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Awesome point Clarisel. As much as the mainstream white community wants to admit it, it is still a United States that primarily benefits white people.

I agree with you. The Internet is THE great equalizer, which is why it is so important for it to remain free, unimpeded by special interests, and neutral (as in in network neutrality, all traffic is treated equally).