Does anyone read print newspapers anymore?

November 24, 2008

Do you? I don’t. As avid of a news reader as I am, I can confess to not reading a single thing in print. I get everything online now, like everyone else. The big media companies are definitely feeling it — and the impending recession is making the situation even worse.

For my dad’s generation, print newspapers were an important part of everyday life. My dad still reads the Wall Street Journal every morning on the train to work and treasures it, but I think he’s of a dying breed. Yesterday he was showing me some stock quotes in the WSJ and I was struck by how long it had been since I had read a print copy of anything to get the news. Especially for something as rapidly changing as stock quotes, it seemed futile to me to look at a print newspaper published only once a day, when those stocks would fluctuate constantly throughout the day and the most up-to-the-minute updates could only be found online.

Last week the New York Times, still my favorite for news, announced that it sharply reduced its dividend — which will save the New York Times Co. about $97.8 million a year. This is after years of increasing its dividend. Some think that page by page, section by section, the NYT’s influence is fading away.

PC Magazine is shutting down its print edition and going completely digital.

And did you know over half the Washington Post company’s revenue comes not from WaPo or Newsweek…but from its Kaplan test prep division?

On the other hand, in July, Gawker Media got twice as many pageviews as the LA Times website. And Huffington Post has supposedly raised $15 million in capital.

AdAge questions whether print can even survive another five years — a little pessimistic if you ask me. But then there’s been so many media layoffs lately, that the blogging giants are trying to seize an opportunity by offering free blog accounts to laid-off journalists. So who knows.

One thing I do know is that mass media is changing. No one wants a one-way message from the media anymore; they want a two-way conversation that they can participate in. They want to be able to comment on news stories, they want to be able to discuss the news as it happens, they want rapid updates every minute, and they want to be environmentally friendly and save paper. I’m taking a mass media course right now, and I’m surprised by how little we have even touched upon the topic of the internet — we’ve studied nearly every kind of old media, but barely even touched upon the effects of the internet on the media establishment.

What I’m interested to see next is: which big media company will actually keep up? Or will they die out and be completely replaced by internet media?



  1. I am currently speaking to a potential client who is a writes a local magazine in Beverly Hills. Their target market is composed of 40 – 60 years olds who have no idea what blogs and or what Twitter is. These people do read print.

    The biggest hesitation that this company has with social media is that their target market simply doesn’t use it.

    My strategy for this company is pretty strong I feel. I want them to build a community blog where anyone from the community can post local news, create a Twitter account that releases breaking news, and start making podcasts. Furthermore, they can be the ones that teach their target market how to use social media.

    Just my 2 cents

    Jun Loayza

  2. It depresses me to think that I may never again see my name “in print.” It’ll only be written on a computer screen.

  3. Teresa: Aw, I feel your pain dude…we’re in the same boat. This is why we need to do journalism t-ships…

    Jun: That’s a really interesting strategy. If you can get people of that demographic using things like blogs, twitter, and podcasts, that’d be pretty awesome, and could be a really good way to revitalize that magazine…the question is still whether people of that age group really do want to use tools like twitter and podcasts though…

  4. I still read WSJ in print. Sometimes, you need to just kick back and enjoy a nice paper, a cup of fresh coffee, and the sun rise.

    That said, by the time I read something in print, I already know about it from RSS, blogs, and twitter. Great site you got BTW.

  5. Thanks! I agree- if once in a while I do read a print newspaper, I’ve already heard about the news in five other ways first…

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