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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.
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.
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.
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?
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