Posted June 2, 2009 10:03 pm by with 11 comments

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pile-of-newspapersYup, that’s a B as in billion. Just when you think the newspaper industry can’t take another hit it gets hit with a haymaker. According to TechCrunch, the Newspaper Association of America reported a 28.28% year over year in Q1. That number’s monetary equivalent is $2.6B and that’s a stunning number even to an already beleaguered industry.

TechCrunch says

The sharp decline is caused by the lousy state of both digital and dead tree ad sales: the stats posted on the Newspaper Association of America website show that print sales fell by 29.7% in the first three months of this year (to $5.9 billion), while online sales dropped a record 13.4% (to $696.3 million).

Now it almost feels like dog piling on newspapers. With papers closing and the threats of closings being thrown around the kind of graph you see below almost seems unfair. It’s almost like you want the industry to cry “Uncle!” and just throw in the towel.


While most would say that newspapers aren’t going to vanish those same folks would say that the newspaper’s reach and influence will be determined by how well they move their offerings online and if they can get subscribers to pay for their content. The theory is that you pay for paper delivery then you should pay for online. Makes sense but most end users don’t see it that way at all unless there is a specific niche that will support the information that makes their jobs easier with most being related to business.

So is this the bottom yet for the industry? Not likely.

Annual ad sales for American newspapers came in at a grand total of nearly $49.5 billion in 2005 and dropped to about $37.8 billion in 2008. If the decline rate keeps accelerating the way these first quarter results suggest, we could be looking at somewhere in between $26 billion and $30 billion in total ad sales revenue for this year.

The momentum that the deconstruction of the newspaper industry has gained makes it unlikely that newspapers will ever see their heyday numbers again. The new era of ‘newspapers’ is going to need to get underway now if there is to be any papers of note in the future.

So let’s fast forward 10 years from now. It’s 2019. What does the newspaper industry look like. Is it relegated to museum displays or is there still a remnant remaining. Is it possible to see a bounce back by the industry? If so what could that look like? Feel free to jump in the time machine and take a look. Tell everyone what you see – if anything.

  • “The theory is that (if) you pay for paper delivery, then you should pay for online.” Maybe that’s the theory, but in 2019, if you pay for paper delivery, then you pay for paper delivery because that’s what you want. Why must people fight the Invisible Hand? It’s useless. Look at the auto industry. You gotta respect the Hand.

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  • This is really a shocking news. If this will continue, more newspaper companies would definitely stop its operation.

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  • This is not really surprising at all but now there will be more talk about paying for online subscriptions which in my mind will never happen. What will happen is if one local newspaper goes pay-per-read then within a month another website will be up covering local news and giving it out for free. I think newspapers need to look at package deals where the subscribers pay for the newspaper delivered, get an online subscription, and with the online subscription they get stuff worth their time such as some exclusive local documentaries and archived video such as local sports games, etc.

  • With online access on getting the most up to date news for free, newspaper is going to die unless they don’t charge a cent and make their profits on their advertisements.

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  • Why not try bringing the customers and non-customers “into the tent” via Web Video Workshops?

    I’d be interested to see a local daily invite local media mavens in for a “Flip Mino: Reporting 101” meeting where they each receive a Mino, free, and sign up to produce content.

    Generating revenue won’t be easy (how many people will watch these “Local” videos with ad overlays, pre-roll, post-roll).

    Still, I’m sold on local video and follow numerous folks in my Burlington, Vermont community.

    What’s your two cents? …

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  • In the future, those who choose to work at a newspaper will choose to work in a place at a low wage that’s full of old equipment, old technology, and an employer that will give little hope to their employees for advancement of their current income level.

  • With the exception of a few magazines that I enjoy reading while lounging on the couch, all my media is consumed online (90%) or through the TV (10%). I haven’t felt the need to subscribe to a newspaper in years, so I guess I favor extinction.

    I do think that certain savvy newspaper companies will find a niche to occupy in the online pay-for-value space. They will offer free content and paid content and I will subscribe if their free content provides some value but makes me want more. I think that’s the model for all successful online content providers.


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