Will Your Newspaper Be Around in Five Years?

Will your newspaper be around in five years? I don’t think anyone knows for sure what will happen, but I think it’s a safe bet you won’t have the same number of newspapers in your market in five years (and I’m not saying there will be more). I know there are a lot of people who will continue to get their news from print, just as there are people who still continue to buy their music on vinyl. It’s the experience and nostalgia of it all.

As much as I like print, there are a few strong arguments for why it just doesn’t make sense anymore as a format. And why I think your local paper won’t be printed in five years:

  • Content – there is less variety from one newspaper to the next. When you can read the same story in any newspaper around the U.S., and access much of that information for free online, what motivation do you have to get the news in print? As news organizations continue to reduce staff, there will be fewer reporters to write original content. And let’s be honest, by the time your paper lands in your driveway, you’ve heard about most of the stories on the front page. So content won’t save print, maybe readers will…
  • Readers – what is a newspaper without readers? You can’t maintain a circulation base today. There is too much choice in the market and consumers are fickle. They will subscribe today and unsubscribe tomorrow. Local papers have little to motivate subscribers to stay on, with less and less each month. And don’t expect readers to save the paper. In survey after survey, most share the same outlook on the future of print. It’s a “nice to have”, but they can live without. Well, at least there’s advertising…
  • Advertisers – as long as there’s advertisers, papers will be okay, right? Even in smaller markets, businesses are starting to realize there are more effective ways to reach consumers (and track advertising). Local search is replacing traditional image advertising in local markets. Mobile advertising will not help to save print. You just don’t know how many people really read a newspaper and click on a link, and advertisers want to know this stuff. But the format of print can’t be replaced…
  • Format – in case you haven’t noticed, everyone is going green. Whether they really want to save the world, or just think it’s what their customers want to hear, companies are getting on board. And when it comes to newspaper, they just aren’t that green. It takes a lot of electricity to power production. Tons of paper and ink are required. Delivery trucks have to transport the news. Beyond the environmental impact of newspapers, the cost of production is incredible. It takes a lot of money to crank out that daily or weekly edition. Regardless of how good it looks, it doesn’t make sense to print the news anymore.

This is not the first time we’ve seen changing formats transform an industry. You don’t get your music on 8-tracks, records or cassette tapes anymore. Few of us are buying movies on VHS. And a few of us have ditched published books for the Kindle. But I don’t know, there’s a lot that could happen. Maybe your paper will still be around in five years. Then again, where are you getting your information from right now?

(Image Credit: somegeekintn)

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

6 Comments

  1. I think the newspaper will still be around. Despite what we all believe there is still a digital divide going on and not everyone is mobile. I get my news through the internet and I actually read more of the newspaper this way. I am NOT one of the people this would affect but I know some people who refuse to go digital and even in 2009 do not have an email address. Plus, the older generations who are just not digitally able. So I think there is still a strong group of people who won’t go digital.

  2. In five years, newspapers will definately still be around. The steep decline in subscriptions over the past few years, is leveling off. Smart newspapers have adjusted their staffing, marketing, and direction to adapt to the new economy. Of course their impact and influence has been greatly deminished, and will continue to see a slight decline, but nothing in the online world can replace the feeling of being unplugged.

  3. I am always skeptical when the idea of “green” comes into any argument. Sure newspapers are not the most efficient way to spread news, but nether is the internet. It only looks harmless, but servers and computers suck up so much energy. The manufacturing of the hardware is pretty gross too. It would be interesting to see a comparison of the two: how much energy a single article for a single person takes up in both formats.

    Also newspapers are the great equalizer. Good solid internet is only available to the rich (rich in the world sense not developed countries sense) and the urban. My parents just got (sort of) fast internet not to long ago. They live on a farm in the Midwest.

  4. The daily newspaper in my market won’t be around in five years because of the points you made in your post, plus one more – greed. As many newspapers are owned by publicly traded corporations, top management’s concern is for stockholders – and rightly so. Unfortunately, the quality of the product (the content) suffers, and the rest is history. As a former print reporter, it is a sad thing to watch.

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