Print media had been in a decline way before the introduction of the internet in the 1990s. This downward trend began with televison’s emergence in 1950s forshashadowed newspaper’s importance as a source of news in society. Newspapers where slow to evolve as publishers and editors where confident as television didn’t seem much of a threat with a limited amount of stations. This confidence was also due to newspapers being able to flourish when radio first came in.
“Fifty-four million buyers of newspapers prove every day that newspapers are indispensable to the people,” - Frank Tripp, publisher of the Elmira, N.Y., newspapers and general manager of the Gannett newspaper chain, from a column in 1948.
However, newspapers didn’t have the greatest of profits compared to previous decades. Circulation of papers was steady for most of the decade with the highest circulation in the US being 58,881,746 in daily circulation. There was a decline in 1958 as television began to cut into print media’s advertising profits.
Circulation has been in a decline since the Great Recession with weekday circulation falling by 7% with digital rising by 2%.
The internet rise of the 1990s brought hope with many print companies believing this would be anouther avenue to make profits.
However with the rise of google and social media in changing how people get there news this was’t the case. The ability of the search engines to find a particular writer or blog means that it makes the print version of the paper useless.
Debates as to why newspapers have decline is due to its lack of ability to keep up with the pace of today’s society. With news constantly breaking throughout the day, news reported for today’s paper may be useless by lunchtime. It’s not entirely the fault of print media as they are limited in how the present the news visually as well as how quickly.
Eric Beecher from The Monthly discusses how the idea of taking the whole print version of the paper and putting online and expecting results of what print used to have is “nonsense”. He describes the internet society as very niche medium where everyone has there specific interest groups and preferences. The concept that newspapers had been running with for years combining a range of different content from sports to politics. This doesn’t work today with all the different ways to get information to specific interests as well as the rise of social media where anyone, anywhere can report on an event. It is also the quick and easy way to get information that print media cannot compete with no matter what they change whether it be layout or content.
The internet has everything and is described by Eric Bleecher as the “first mass medium in history with almost no barriers to entry and practically unlimited content-carrying capacity.” There are billions of different websites and blogs highly specialised in a certain topic or interest. What makes it difficult for news media to compete with this medium is that it’s free. Readers don’t have any incentive to go pay for news that can go get for free somewhere else. Also with social media networks (etc. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram) advertisers can promote their product more directly to consumers at no or little cost.
Sandro Olivo an editor for the Leader Newspapers social media has made it difficult for newspapers for profit when it has been given for free.
“So the public expects to get their news for free these days, and while a percentage is happy to pay for digital subscriptions, most will gravitate towards the free stuff.”
Sites such as Facebook he says is also reasons for lower revenues across newspaper groups around the globe which has led to less money for newspapers to spend on hiring, training and development staff. This is because advertisers are taking there money to these social media sites and can get instant information of their target demographic.
“It’s much harder to quantify your reach and bang for the advertising buck.”
“The other thing about less revenue means less ads in newspapers, which leads to less pages, and less space to print all the news you have.”
Olivo also discusses how due to how easy it is to make your own social media account there is an explosion of unfettered social media sites run by untrained journalists who publish information from the public without checking the validity of the source. The public are misinformed and they aren’t held at the same standards that a newspaper groups are in having knowledge of media law.
“It’s a sad state of affairs, not just for journalism, but for the public in general.”
This is seen today with the rise of the internet in taking away print media profits. Eric Beecher in a article for The Australian in 2013 said “The internet has poached most of Australia’s newspaper classified advertising. The money that financed quality journalism for a century is disappearing, with no likely replacement.”
In this article he said that newspapers are in a constant battle to stay afloat and that “For every dollar they lose in newspaper advertising they gain less than 10 cents in online advertising.”
Large papers in Australia The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald have lost nearly a third of circulation in the last three years.
Many different Newspapers believe the future of journalism is bleak as to target a younger generation they believe they have to “dumb down” and make the stories short.
Scott Bowles who worked at USA Today and the Washington Post said that they where told to write short and social media trending stories.
However, there is still a demand for in depth reporting as different audiences have different preferences.Amy Mitchell the director of journalism research believes this saying “People are also reading longer stories particularly with the development of the tablet.”
Sandro Olivo debates the race that will occur for newspapers to have their online channels as profitable as their print platforms once were. Its a smart move to go online as there is a lot of expenses in printing the physical copy of the paper.
“There is a lot of money spent on paper, ink, staff, machinery, delivery etc just to print newspapers. So in one go, you save yourself millions.And you can become an almost 24 hour news service”
However he believes that a long way off as online has to be profitable to pay journalists which he says at the moment, Australian media outlets are long way off from that being the case.