Friday, March 26, 2010

Newspapers: Quickly Becoming Irrelevant

The Newspaper Association of America just released its most recent advertising statistics showing a precipitous decline in 2009. Industry wide print advertising revenue in 2009 fell by 28.6% from the prior year to just $24.8 billion, a level last seen in 1985. Don't think that the revenue model is shifting to on-line advertising. It isn't. Total advertising revenues including on-line were just $2.7 billion higher and fell 27.2%, almost as sharply as print only revenues.

Clearly some of this decline is due to the tough advertising market in a recessionary economy, but magazine ad revenue dropped a comparatively small 11.2% while network and national cable TV was down only 6.6%.

Even when the advertising market improves newspapers will never see a return to their glory days. A January 2010 poll commissioned by the AARP shows that 33% of adults read a print paper less than they did five years ago and 80% would not be willing to pay for an online newspaper if it were unavailable in print.  Perhaps worst of all, young people seemingly have little use for a newspaper based on findings from The Kaiser Family Foundation's study: M2, Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 year Olds. The study reports that young people spend an average of just three minutes a day with a print newspaper, and only 23% are readers, down from 42% in 1999. Kids aren't reading the paper on-line either, spending on average just 2 minutes a day. Instead kids spend their media time watching television. listening to music, using the computer and playing video games. Apparently we are not raising a new generation of future newspaper readers.

If you are interested in the future of newspapers, as I am, head over to the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University which is focused on "how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age" and they provide excellent coverage on this topic.

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