The topic of newspapers, and of traditional media, “dying,” has come up in my blog posts before here and, more recently, here. It’s difficult for me not to let out an audible groan when this topic creeps up once again across blogs and forums. Let’s consider these facts:
- There was a newspaper boon in the 1890s, when the number exceeded 13,000 — about the same number as now – according to a recent Stanford University presentation.
- Concluding a year-long study, U.S. newspapers are transforming, not going out of business, says Paul Steinle, a just-retired journalism professor and academic provost who ran United Press International from 1988-1990.
- Some of the best newspapers in America – of all sizes – are now reporting profit margins averaging 10 percent to 15 percent a year despite devastating drops in advertising revenue over the last five years, according to Paul Steinle and his co-researcher, wife Dr. Sara Brown.
- The Newton Daily News reported last month that their content “reaches more people today than at any point in its entire history.”
- Recently retired Lexington Herald-Leader publisher Tim Kelly wrote that“there are 122 non-daily newspapers in Kentucky right now, only one fewer than 15 years ago. Not exactly a rush to extinction.”
- Last month, Jason Schaumburg, editor of the Daily Chronicle reported, as reported to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the papers overall circulation grew about 8 percent over last year –and online page views have increased 35 percent since 2008.
- Released just last week, a comScore study for the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) showed newspaper websites posted the second consecutive quarterly traffic increase. NAA President and CEO John Sturm explains, “The credibility associated with newspapers and strong newspaper brands clearly carries over to the online environment — distinguishing newspaper sites from other sources.”
Although she’s actually at a TV station, not a newspaper, Emily Neilson best described the shift of 8 News NOW as no longer being a TV station but rather a local news organization that is platform agnostic.
Kevin Slimp, director of the Institute of Newspaper Technology, reported that this has been the busiest summer he’s ever had with newspapers all over the U.S. and Canada calling for advice and training as they prep for major tech upgrades. He, admittedly, hasn’t done any serious research on the subject but shared one theory as to why, “We finally realized we (newspapers) aren’t dying, so we’d better start preparing for our future.”
So, are newspapers (and other ‘big media’) really dying? NO! (yes I’m shouting). Are media outlets evolving? Yes. Do we know exactly what media will look like in five years? I think that may be a good topic for a future blog post. What do you think?