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Business Models

Print news still dominates – or does it?

Over the last 15 years, news read online have been increasing. However, for big news organizations the total abolition of printed news are not to be expected in the coming years. A comparison of the five biggest newspapers in the US back in 2009 shows that still 88% of the customers read the print, whilst 12% are using the online edition. Although there are examples of news corporations which have reasons to go online-only in the future, such as the Guardian and the Scottish Review, it’s for most newspapers not likely even considering it. Not yet. In the case of the two above mentioned newspapers, the main reason for stopping the printed version is that they have a evidently hugh reader potential online, together with declining sales on the printed news.

Adapt to changes

Even more distinctive claims in the question are being done by internet expert Dr. Jeffrey Cole. He argues, that when internet penetration reaches 30%, the printed news will decline and readers will instead move to the online platform. He remains optimistic about the trends however, and foresees a development comparable with how radio adapted when television was launched. He states that “no mass media ever disappears. It changes, it adapts.” As the change goes rapidly, solutions have to be found, and for Jay Smith, president of Cox Newspapers, convergence is a guideline. “The key to the future of newspapers is the effort to build a broad portfolio of products around the core product, the traditional newspaper, and to connect with both general and targeted audiences“, he claims.

Convergence the way to go?

Business and future

Furthermore, Dr Cole is rather optimistic about the future. He proposes, that instead of paying big amounts of money for printing and delivering the papers, the money could be spent in ways to improve journalism, and make increase the salaries for the online editorial offices.

At the same time as newspapers seem to be failing, printed media have certain abilities which can not be transferred to online media. Instead, as Matthew Buckland is seeing the matter, there might be lessons to be learned from printed news. He proposes that the iPad, to a big extent is made to look like a book: “my iPad contacts appear as a leather-bound book, and we are able to scroll with a flick of a finger, flip through screens with a swipe.”

But back to the question how to adapt to changes. An example of how to find a new niche is the news corporation Bay Citizen. Focusing on local news and use of local journalists they now cover the San Francisco bay area with and distribute news, which are published in, for instance the New York Times. The business is funded by donations, gifts and money from memberships. Currently, the company does not have any printed editions, and are not planning on it either. Instead they are sharing the the news online-only, but are also planning on a combination of online news with collaborations with local broadcasters in order to distribute news through radio and television as well.

Disruptive trends and adding value

For news organizations an interesting time is ahead of us, where changes are made quickly and success is dependent on willingness to adapt to current circumstances. Possibilites must be seen, and opportunities shall be taken. In short, innovators are the winners, if they manage the new disruptive trends and technologies to seek new ways to add value to their business. New business can find their niche to the market and grow big in short time, while well known newspapers may all of a sudden disappear. A striking example which proves how fast the business is changing is News of the World, founded in 1843 and once one of the best selling papers in the UK, which due to scandals was forced to shut down completely in 2011.


6 thoughts on “Print news still dominates – or does it?

  1. Hey Mattias! Very nice post! Personally, I also wondered for how long paper news will remain. But it’s hard to say. I look at my …let’s say unmodern parents and I know they will NEVER read the news online at the breakfast table. When I look at myself, I’m pretty sure that I won’t make a subscription to a (paper) newspaper in the near future. I too much like browsing and comparing different news sides and also realize how their report style and content tend to differ from each other. And also if we think of the Youtube clip “a day in glass”(??), we wouldn’t imagine anything other than online news for the future… So it’s time to adapt for still a few magazines. It’s also more environmental friendly, if we kept printing all these papers…

    Posted by ingaz | December 8, 2011, 5:57 pm
  2. Dear Mattias,
    a cool topic you chose there. In school we discussed this issue quite a few times in our German and English class.
    I personally don’t think that the printed newspaper version will ever vanish. I just can’t imagine that one day everyone will look up the written news on TV, their Tablet PC or cell phone. It might be convenient that they don’t take up a lot of space or might be cheaper but in my point of view they cannot replace the real printed version.

    Even thouugh I rarely read newspapers I still find it a lot nicer when I can turn the pages myself which especially applies to books. I just like it a lot more to hold the book in my hand than my tablet PC.

    But as you pointed out in your post, times change and everyone who doesn’t want to fall behind has to change with time and come up with new ideas to satisfy everybody’s demands. I could imagine that the trend for online newspapers is going to grow but stagnate at a certain point when people have gotten used to the new “cool” trend and turn back to the real newspapers.

    I think you did really a good job the way you wrote your post. I noticed that you used a lot of the reporting verbs we had in class.

    What I would have liked to know is what are the actual reasons why the printed version is still preferred. Of course I have my own personal opinion about that but what do others say?

    It is actually quite interesting what I found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/jun/30/people-prefer-print

    It shows that one of the main reasons that people prefer print is that they don’t want to pay for online newspapers.

    Nevertheless, I think you did a good job in writing your post. I enjoyed reading it!

    Posted by Saskia R. | February 13, 2012, 4:30 pm


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