Traditional channels are sinking, but online is floating pretty.

Traditional Media Becoming Obsolete, Not the Media Itself


Here are the facts:

  • Newspapers circulation numbers are falling like a rock.  The New York Times daily circulation in 1990 was 1.1 million and is now less than 900,000.  The Los Angeles Times circulation dropped from 1.25 million in 1990 to less than 600,000
  • The big three TV networks accounted for more than 45% of the share of TV news in 1980.  In 2009 that number fell to less than 15%
  • Cable TV news viewership has stagnated in the last year

There is little doubt that traditional media is in decline.  This is why in 2009 more than 14,000 journalists lost their jobs.

But let’s be clear here.  It is the traditional channels of media that are on the decline – not media itself.  Media are exploding.  And some of the biggest and most influential new media channels are the online properties of traditional outlets.

Take a look at these monthly hit numbers (according to Compete.com):

  • The New York Times web site has averaged more than 16 million unique views a month in 2010.  More than 18,000 other web sites link to content there
  • CNN.com averages more than 25 million unique views per month in 2010.  More than 34,000 other web sites link back to content there

Those are impressive numbers.

So while traditional media’s old channels – print and broadcast – are floundering, their online properties are thriving.  In fact, I’d argue that the influence of traditional media outlets like the New York Times and CNN are greater than ever.

The internet and social networking sites have given traditional media outlets an audience beyond their once limited geographies.  For example, take the Boston Globe.

By all rights the Boston Globe’s circulation is in free fall.  New England’s largest daily newspapers once bragged about a circulation of more than 700,000 and now finds itself below 300,000.  There is little doubt that the print product for the Boston Globe is heading to obsolescence.

But look at its other “new” delivery channels:

  • Boston.com receives an average of 4.2 million unique views per month in 2010.  More than 5.500 other sites link to its content
  • The Boston Globe has more than a dozen Twitter channels – from books and movies to the Bruins and local news – that is followed by tens of thousands of people
  • The Boston Globe Facebook page has more than 6,500 people liking it

The Boston Globe is also providing video and audio content.  It even has a free smart phone application.  Their audience is actually greater now than it has ever been.

These new channels will continue to grow.  So while traditional outlets are still struggling to fully monetize these new channels – they have jumped into online and social channels in a big way.  People are getting their news on different channels (and in different formats), but they are still relying on traditional media outlets to deliver it to them.

Traditional media – new and old alike – are reinventing journalism and news delivery.  Don’t forget that.  Media outlets still pack an enormous audience and have an even greater ability to influence people – from what books to read to what products to buy.

Media relations isn’t dying – it’s just moving online and onto social networks.

Links:

Photo by Kevin Lim (via Flickr)

2 Responses to “Traditional Media Becoming Obsolete, Not the Media Itself”

  1. Hi! I liked your article, clear and backed up by some strong evidence. Can you post your references? Thanks!

  2. These are old now. But check at Pew Research. Great statistics and an annual report on the state of journalism. Also eMarketer is an excellent source. And, believe it or not, Google works wonders… :-)

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