Sunday, September 29, 2013

Print Media in the US on the Decline

Rabin Man Shakya

US print journalism is divided mainly into two categories: national and city newspapers. The three newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The USA Today are the only national newspapers which are circulated nationwide. All other newspapers are city newspapers which are confined to the respective cities. Some newspapers like the IBD and the Barrons weekly are also circulated nationwide, but their circulation is limited.

Among them some city newspapers are circulated across the respective states. For example, Dallas Morning News published in Dallas is circulated across Texas and The Oregonian published in Portland is distributed across the state of Oregon.

At a time when newspaper industry is booming in developing countries like Nepal, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and so on, the print journalism is slowly and constantly on the decline in advanced countries like the US, paving the way for digital journalism.

While some daily newspapers have absolutely ceased their "print" publication and have opted for digital journalism, a number of daily newspapers in the US have moved to thrice-a-week publication, and many daily newspapers have moved to thrice-a-week home delivery.

On the one hand, advertising revenue of the daily newspapers of the US is on the decline and on the other hand the overall expenditure of the newspapers are on the rise. Therefore, laying off of the staff and moving to thrice-a-week or four-days-a-week publication are the only option left for  a number of newspapers. And this is not a choice, but just a compulsion or a forced move for the newspapers for their survival.

Some American newspapers moving to thrice-a-week publication or thrice-a-week home delivery are "Birmingham News" of Alabama (daily circulation: 103,000), "The Advocate" of Louisiana (98,000), "Grand Rapids Press" of Michigan (95,000), "The Patriot News" of Pennsylvania (89,000), "The Post Standard" of New York (76,000), "The Oregonian" of Oregon (220,000). And these are just the tips of the iceberg.

And many more US newspapers are planning to cease publication thereby choosing digital journalism and many more daily newspapers are moving to thrice-a-week home delivery. Bad news for the American newspapers, of course.

In this context, Ken Doctor, the media analyst and author of the book and Website "Newsonomics" said:"Since 2004-05, the height of revenue in the industry, newspaper advertising revenue has declined by $27 billion, or more than 50 percent."

Last year, print advertising declined by 9 percent, "a huge loss in the midst of an economic recovery," Doctor said.

Stressing that the major driver of this change is the devastating loss of print advertising, Doctor asserted:"They are not maintaining their share in what is the biggest advertising boom in history."

Yet newspapers rely on advertising for roughly 73 percent of their revenue, he said adding, digital advertising generate only as much as 15 percent overall ad revenue.

Doctor went on to say:"So, while advertising on Google and other Websites now surpasses advertising in print, digital ads at newspapers aren't growing at the same rate."

Well, the prediction of Canadian media guru late Marshall McLuhan still in the late 1960s about the annihilation of the printed word by the electronic media have some relevance in this context.

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