Monday, November 13, 2006

The end of Newspapers?

Not my prediction. Experts in the newspaper business say that newspapers - as we know them - may be done in 5 years! Circulation is down everywhere. Americans are now getting the news they read - online. Papers are expected to offer their stories online for free. The days of the printed paper on the doorstep appear to be numbered. Who saw this coming? Newspapers, even in secondary markets have been traditional moneymakers. Tens of millions in ad revenue easily - because rarely does a market have more than one paper. If an advertiser wanted to see their name in print - they had to pay whatever the paper asked. Now, just a few years after the advent of the Internet - papers are reporting dwindling profits. The cash cow days appear to be over. Newspapers are for sale. In my city - our 175 year old newspaper is for sale. Why not? It'll never be worth more than it is today. Next week it'll be worth less.

In my 30 years in the radio business, my stations have always had to compete with other broadcast companies for ad revenue. Newspapers mostly had the print media ad revenue all to themselves. Now, that the media itself is dying - it's time for newspapers to re-invent themselves.

A hard copy - paper paper - is important. It's an archive of time. Papers are a hands on record.
This tradition must continue - but at a cost. Newspapers must embrace the Internet & sell ad space online. Newspapers must do the same things the record companies are facing. ADDED VALUE. More inserts. Better artwork. Freebies. Don't laden me with 5 pounds of newsprint containing your advertisements. Laden me with 5 pounds of value. Cut back on your advertising - like radio had to do to compete. Make your paper better. This is the only way for the newspaper business to survive. The clock is ticking. Your own experts give you 5 years.