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Why newspapers haven't died

Article Date: 
10 July, 2014 - 14:32

Newspapers are dead, or at least dying.  It was a topic of study, research and debate when I was in college studying journalism 18 years ago.  Sure, it caused me to pause a moment and consider the career I was pursuing.  If I would have believed the predictions, I wouldn’t be a news editor today for a weekly published on newsprint.  But here I am, still in the newspaper business, still with a job.  And here you are, reading my inked words on newsprint.
When I was first employed with The Morgan County News in 1998, the number of subscribers was actually lower than it is now.  If newspapers are dying, why are our subscriptions up?
Readers subscribe to a newspaper for many reasons, according to an Ad Age/Ipsos Observer American Consumer Survey in 2012.  Among those reasons in order of importance are local news, coupons, national news and obituaries.
Newspapers are integral to society because they monitor local government, explore current local events, have the largest staff dedicated to reporting, compare prices, share local opinion and explore local entertainment.  This is done in detail written by other locals, not some think tank residing thousands of miles away.
Admittedly, the Internet and social media have affected newspapers.  However, unlike predicted, the Internet and social media haven’t killed newspapers outright.  Both teens and adults use Instagram, Twitter and facebook, according to the Poynter Institute in an August 2013 study.  
More than half the national population between 18 and 34 years of age read a newspaper in an average week, according to the Newspaper Association of America in 2013.  Of those, 68 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24.  Yep, the same ones who live on facebook also pick up the newspaper.
Three quarters of the national population from ages 25 to 34 who read newspapers report acting in some way on print advertising in the last month.
Yes, advertisers, newspaper subscribers are seeing your ad, and acting on it!
In fact, newspaper advertisements are seen as the most trustworthy media, most valuable while planning shopping, and the best at bringing sales to attention compared to the Internet, television, direct mail, billboards, magazines and radio, according to an NAA “How America Shops and Spends” study from 2013.  The same study shows that newspapers are tied with the Internet when measuring how people prefer to receive advertising information.
That must be why newspapers and the Internet are an unstoppable duo.  Paired together, the newspaper and Internet are incredibly powerful.
According to a Goggle commissioned 2013 survey, people admit they pay more attention to print ads than those online.  In fact, their confidence in a product advertised online greatly increased when they also saw it advertised in their newspaper.  Studies prove that more than half of the people responding to newspaper advertising either visit a store or follow up online.  Eight out of 10 adults have acted on a newspaper insert or circular in the past month.  Forty percent clip coupons.
Print media outperforms all other media in return on investment, or ROI, according to a 2014 Erik Grim Media Research study.  Said more simply, the money invested in a newspaper advertisement actually results in more profit for a business than any other type of advertisement.
When reading a newspaper, you can’t fast forward through the advertisements.  You don’t lose the signal your information is delivered through.  You generally set aside more than 30 seconds to read a story.  Usually those picking up a newspaper are doing so specifically for the content, not just hearing or seeing something casually in passing.
That is what I have come to see during my career.  Social media, radio and the television may briefly interest you in a wide variety of topics.  But when you want “the rest of the story,” the real meat and potatoes, about a local story, chances are you will turn to a newspaper.  I choose to think of it not as the “newspaper business,” but as the information business.
Even a third of the credible information found on the Internet originally was produced by a news source.
If newspapers are dead, why are you reading this?