Newspapers on their way out?

A long standing tradition in my husband’s home on Sunday mornings before church is for his parents to wake up early, fix a gourmet breakfast, sit down with an exotic flavored coffee and read the newspaper–both their local paper as well as The Daily Oklahoman. This is something that has been occuring since he was little and an event I can always count on happening when we visit. Throughout the reading of the newspapers on Sunday, my mother-in-law looks for coupons, advertisements and promotions from various companies and products. She then promptly cuts these out in an effort to organize her shopping efforts for the week. However, this tradition may soon change.

Newspapers are quickly declining and thus these advertisements and their ability to reach consumers are quickly declining. The large drop is newspapers is felt across the country, through companies like Tribune filing for bankruptcy and The Boston Globe falling more than 10% in sales this last year. Like the Boston Globe, The Houston Chronicle, The Orange County Register and The Detroit News have all fallen more than 10%. The greatest fall in circulation this past year was The Atlanta-Journal Constitution with a fall of 13.6%.

The obvious answer to this, for at least a while has been online advertising through newspaper websites. And for a while, this seemed to work…however with the largest decline in purchasing papers being on Sunday, (which also ironically enough also generates the most advertising dollars) newspapers hope that through online advertising they can make up for the lack of profit through advertising in the “normal” paper.

Even the New York Times is saying “Extra, Extra…Read all about it!”

“In recent years, the industry has played down the circulation declines, stressing that newspaper Web sites were experiencing rising traffic and advertising revenues, at least partially offsetting weak print ad revenues, and producing a net increase in readership. At least some of the drop in circulation has been intentional, as papers try to curb marketing and distribution costs and focus on the most profitable sales.

But Internet revenues have been flat this year and print ad revenue has declined sharply for two years, increasing the importance of revenue from sales of the printed paper.

Analysts have warned in recent years that by offering steadily less in print, newspapers were inviting readers to stop buying. Most papers have sharply reduced their physical size — fewer and smaller pages, with fewer articles — and the newsroom staffs that produce them.

“It just seems impossible to me that you’re cutting costs dramatically without having some impact on the editorial quality of your product,” said Peter Appert, a newspaper analyst at Goldman Sachs. “I can’t prove that this is driving circulation, but it’s certainly something that if I were a newspaper publisher would keep me up at night.”

The New York Times, 10/28/08

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1 Comment

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One response to “Newspapers on their way out?

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