Last year, The New York Times reported a 9 percent drop in circulation among the 25 largest newspapers in the nation. Some individuals newspapers saw a decrease of over 20 percent in their weekly subscriptions. At my own newspaper, circulation decreased dramatically, dropping from around 60,000 on a weekday to 48,000. Sunday circulation saw a smaller decrease, but still substantial.
Howard Owens poses the question: well, what about readership?
For so long, readership has been considered to be at least 2.5 people per newspaper. For so long, it made sense. A husband and wife exchanging the paper in the morning, a waiting room full of individuals looking for something to do, an office break room full of coworkers at lunchtime - the presence of a newspaper in any of these scenarios would raise the readership rate by a significant amount. But would we still find these results today?
A husband and wife now have individual smartphones or laptops and can navigate and browse hundreds of articles within minutes while still sitting together at the kitchen table. What do most people in waiting rooms do to pass the time? Send emails on their Blackberrys and play games on their phones. And in an office break room? They're reading the news or checking Facebook on their tablets or smartphones.
But that's what's so interesting about this whole shift in print media. While some would have you believe that print is dying and people don't care about news, it is evident that people still crave information. However, now we get to choose what information to receive.
If we want hyperlocal information, we know that a local newspaper is the best source. If we want information about our friends, Facebook will be our first stop. If we want information about our country, a Google search will turn up everything we could ever want to know. Not to mention Wikipedia, IMDb, WolframAlpha, iTunes and the millions of other references that can turn an idea or a memory into a realization.
So people are turning their backs on a paper product - so what? That doesn't have to result in lost revenue. Once we fully embrace the evolution of print to digital media, we'll come out of it with revenue lining our pockets and everyone wanting a piece of the pie.
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