Sunday, April 19, 2015

Decline in Newspaper Readership

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

From the soaring newsprint price dilemmas, to advertisement drop quandaries to circulation decline conundrum, the newspapers in the US, UK and other European countries are finding themselves at the crossroads of post-Internet age.

So why is newspaper readership declining in the US, UK, Canada and other European countries? Was Prof Marshall McLuhan right when he foretold in 1960s the annihilation of the printed word by the electronic media?

In the US and elsewhere young people are seen daily with smartphones everywhere. Young people all over the world are too much obsessed with the smart phones and other electronic gadgets. You can read and find not only news of all kinds but virtually anything in the smart phones. That is why very few Americans in their twenties and thirties read a newspaper.

Well, decline of newspaper readership is rightly attributed to easy availability of Internet access and growth of other electronic media like television and radio. The dramatic decline in newspaper advertisement since 2000 has added to it. Excessive use and dependence on Internet and excessive use of smart phones have triggered the free fall of the newspapers in the developed countries.

So, maybe, Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press was absolutely right when he said: "Young people are reading everything but newspapers."

In case of Britain, Audit Bureau of Circulation figures show that since January 2001, the total circulation of the UK's ten major national newspapers has declined from 12.06 million copies sold on average each day 14 years ago to a daily average of 6.84 million copies sold in May last year.

And according to Pew Research Center, "While Americans enjoy reading as much as ever - 51 percent say they enjoy reading a lot, little changed over the past two decades - a declines proportion gets news or reads other material on paper on a typical day. Many readers are now shifting to digital platforms to read the papers."

Only 29 percent say they read a newspaper yesterday - with just 23 percent reading a print newspaper. Over the past decade, the percentage reading a print newspaper the previous day has fallen by 18 points (from 41% to 23%), adds Pew.

The conspicuous regions not affected by decline of newspapers are Asia and Latin America where sales of newspapers are still rising. Among the 100 bestselling newspapers in the world, 74 are published in Asia and 62 bestselling newspapers are brought out only in Japan, China and India.

Nepal is also seeing the boom of newspapers' growth, where according to government statistics, in 2003 there were were 3,741 registered newspapers of which 251 were published daily.

1 comment:

  1. Rabin,

    This reminds me of a blog post I put up myself last year, which you can read here:

    My post, like yours, recognizes how prescient Dr. McLuhan was in the 1960s in foretelling this new age of what I call "connected disconnection". Indeed, we are better connected in some ways than at any point in human history, and yet, as the millions of people walking around with their heads buried in their phones demonstrate, we have never been more disconnected from each other.

    In this spirit of connection, I wish to say that I am very happy that we met at your shop last week, and I am still amazed at the coincidence that we spell our names with the same five letters.

    I also wish to say that I am very sorry to hear of the devastating earthquake in Nepal, and I do hope that your family and loved ones are safe.