By: Kate Nodwell, Montpellier Public Relations
Print media was once the main pipeline of information to the world. Daily papers would send information flowing into households and business people would flip through pages and pages of news until their fingers were black from ink. But just as computers pushed out typewriters and cell phones pushed out landlines, the internet is gradually pushing out print.
The decline of print media has been steady since the 90s. ₁During the 1950s the average daily total paid circulation for national news was 21 million which by 1995 plummeted to 14 million and further dropped to 9.9 million by 2010. Advertisers, who were once a key customer for print media, have moved their business to Facebook and Google who have very quickly taken over and now earn half of all ad revenue causing print ad revenue to drop by tens of billions.
Welcome to the world of online everything
With the rapid rise of technology and the internet evolving like wildfire, print media just doesn’t seem to stand a chance. There are currently 3 trillion gigabytes of digital content online and that is expected to double every 18-24 months. Phones are no longer just a mobile device used solely for making phone calls, they are predominantly used for everything else these days. Mobile apps and internet browsers allow users to access and share information on the go and in the blink of an eye and things such as word docs and spreadsheets can be produced and uploaded right from the palm of your hand.
More and more, traditional print companies are shifting their product online as changing consumer trends have identified that people want things quick and conveniently in this fast-paced world we now live in. News online can offer readers live, real-time updates, including audio and visual content, something that traditional print just simply cannot. Additionally, with software analytics now being able to tell businesses who has viewed what and how long they visited a specific page for, it is easier than ever for news outlets to understand what, of their content, is valuable to their readers and what is a waste of time and space.
Even popular sections of newspapers that were once used as page fillers, such as the classifieds and entertainment sections, are being pushed out of print and online. With sites such as Gumtree and the Uk’s new kid on the block Craigslist making it easier for people to buy and sell, and social news portals such as Buzzfeed, OK!, and Huffington Post providing up-to-date news on everything entertainment, it is no wonder so many news outlets are feeling the sting of dropped readership.
Meanwhile, it’s not all doom and gloom. While print may be in its final stages of the traditional cycle of deadline, print, publish, we have already witnessed the migration of media mainstays on-line including FT, WSJ and a spectrum of heavyweights. The scramble to monetise has proven interesting with FT and The Times embracing paywalls and The Guardian even resorting to requests for donations from readers to the tune of £5 per month. What’s more, while the medium may be changing, the immediacy of news has meant that the days of print deadline have been consigned to the history books, as we now witness live blogs and updates 24/7.
The era of news video has ushered in a new form of communications, formerly the sole preserve of TV stations. Media is mixing it up and those needing to engage with the media need to keep up with the changes adopted by the dynamic news and information industry that requires understanding social media channels, digital news variants, short news video clips and the like.
At the end of the day, even though print has been around in England since Caxton introduced the printing press in 1476, we just have to accept that times are changing and that means big changes to things that were once the norm. So, to answer the question, is print media dying? Well, I believe that while it may not be tomorrow or the next day, or even a year from now, yes, print media is on the verge of extinction. The king is dead, long live the digital king!