Journalists – and especially former journalists – love to pontificate on the demise of the industry.
As one of those former journalists, I plead guilty.
There are many reasons why the traditional newspaper model is already dead, but here are the four BIG reasons.
1. Readers don’t want to pay for news anymore
There’s this idea out there that readers never really paid for journalism. That paid subscriptions were about printing and delivery costs and that advertising actually paid for the reporting and editing of the news.
This is technically true.
But it is a meaningless argument. People used to shell out $0.50 and up to $2.00 for their daily papers and up to $5 on Sunday. Now they don’t. The reason is that they can get the same content online for free.
2. Print is a poor delivery system in the digital age
Readers are no longer content with reading text. They want interactivity and multimedia. It is no longer acceptable to present news “one way.” News needs the ability to be shared. People want to comment on it. They want accompanying videos and infographics.
They also want news that is seconds old instead of a day old. And, unfortunately, print is unable to deliver on that type of experience.
3. Traditional advertising models have collapsed
All you need to know about why print advertising used to pay the bills for newspapers and why digital ads do not is this:
Print ads were finite. There was only so much space for ads in a daily newspapers. That made that space valuable.
Digital ads are infinite. There are no space limitations because it is easy to create another webpage. This makes digital ad space cheap.
Do the math.
4. Newspapers have been slow to innovate
They let themselves get seduced by technology without properly understanding it. So they gave away their content and allowed the technology companies – particularly device manufacturers such as Apple – to dictate the rules.
They were very slow to take advantage of the inherent qualities of the Internet. Instead, they continued to write and report for the print editions and post them online. Many of them are still stuck in this model.
They should be writing and reporting for the web – experimenting and inventing new ways to tell stories. But, unfortunately, they continue to follow.
What about you? Why do you think newspapers are losing?