Thursday, June 26, 2008

Newspapers feel your pain

With the 2008 American Jewish Press Association meeting now history, I have returned from the nation's capital to consider some of the highlights from the sessions that were conducted throughout the week. First of all, for those newspapers that are experiencing a loss in subscriptions and/or declining readership, it will get a lot worse before it gets better. As a matter of fact, if present trends continue, print newspapers as an entity in America and worldwide could cease to exist in a far shorter period that the exhaustion of paper resources that have been bandied about by ecologically minded alarmists. Not that I prefer to have to choose between the two, but I think a number of other newspapermen, as print journalists used to be called, would wish they could keep their readers and start to worry about where they were going to get paper products. The declining numbers are due to a number of factors, but the largest are the proliferation of broadcast media for news, especially cable outfits like CNN and Fox News and the burgeoning Internet. When revenue streams from advertising are lost to competitors like these, the print medium has to do some quick footwork to keep from becoming the Edsel dealers of tomorrow. Several business model suggestions to make local connections with communities were suggested and ways to "sell" these were considered during brainstorming sessions. The biggest three sources of new revenue for newspaper websites were listed by a representative of the American Press Institute as e-mail, video and search engines. Local businesses will look to expand their position in the marketplace through adjacent advertising or by links that publicize their products and services. It will be up to the newspapers to expand their websites (or launch new ones) in order to capture these ever-increasing revenue streams or lose them to others who are more responsive to their needs. Newspapers are still reeling from a loss of advertising revenue due to broadcast TV and radio competition decades ago. The Internet poses both the greatest threat and the greatest opportunity for the future of the newspaper industry. With a depressed economy they are feeling your pain even more than they had hoped. Say a little prayer for the newspapers of today. They are at a critical crossroads and there is little doubt that the decisions they make and the solutions they implement will ensure their continued presence or their ultimate demise.

No comments: