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Newspaper ABCS: reinterpreting the purpose of print

Our vanity is tickled when we see our names in print, but is that pride causing the industry to cling to print when it would be better off jettisoning it and going digital-only?


As I say in this little write-up of the latest circulation figures for UK newspapers, there’s nothing surprising to be learned from ABCs these days. Barring the unexpected boost from the death of a monarch, we’re never going to see print circulations increase. In fact, we’re never really going to see them stabilise for mass-market print newspapers. So why does the industry continue paying to produce them?

At the root of that issue is the public’s waning interest in print as a vector for news. In the US, for example, only 10% of respondents to a Pew Research Centre study said they ‘often’ got news from print, compared to 60% who said they often got their news from smartphones or computers. Meanwhile, the latest news consumption report from Ofcom found roughly similar if not worse figures in the UK – but also that newspapers were on par if not slightly worse than TV when it comes to key reasons for use among the public.

I believe that a key part of why the industry clings to print is due to our vanity as journalists. A huge part of the romance surrounding journalism is based on getting our names grubbily printed on cheap paper – but it’s well past time we accept that there’s as much prestige in digital-only journalism as in print.


No advertising, no website, and a $70 magazine. Is this the future of media?

The founders of ‘Inque’ are making a magazine on their own terms.

That said – as I mention in the article linked above – part of the issue for print newspapers is that reading them is a luxury activity priced at commodity level. That’s not the case for magazines, and so we’re seeing specialist titles like Inque pricing their print products appropriately and hopefully succeeding.


Quantifying paywall circumvention remains a challenge

Few publishers have an accurate read on what portion of their audiences might be bypassing their paywalls.

Admitting to knowing a way around paywalls is anathema to many in our business. Realistically, though, there will always be ways around them and – as this article from Toolkits posits – it’s difficult to know exactly how many people are getting around the paywall. It’s a good idea, then, to continue to promote the value of paying to support a publication within the paywall as well as outside it.


Barclays line up Gulf firepower for fresh raid on Telegraph newspapers

The titles’ former owners have secured backing from Middle Eastern investors to table an offer to Lloyds Banking Group worth more than £500m, Sky News learns.

I mean. At this point why do the Barclays even care about regaining the Telegraph titles? Their soft power is dwindling – unless you count the ability to funnel money to Tory columnists as soft power – and its ability to reach its subscriber goals honestly is in question. More than anything else, why would its employees trust them to create a stable business now, after all this?

More from Media Voices


“The demand is definitely there”: How Social Spider is making local news commercially viable

Social Spider is one publisher making the economics work for its five community newspapers: the Waltham Forest Echo, Tottenham Community Press, Enfield Dispatch, EC1 Echo and Barnet Post.


One email to rule them all: The New Statesman consolidates its newsletters

The New Statesman has whittled down its portfolio to just a daily and Saturday newsletter. But is consolidation wise in an era of personalisation?


Why diversity, equity and inclusion is an everyone issue

Project 23 co-founder Gary Rayneau says it’s time diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives were subject to the same rigour as any other business strategy.


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