The future of newspapers in an online world

(Newspapers are dead. Long live the news!)
Dirk Singer, Rabbit
Twitter - @dirktherabbit /
blog - /
work -
The future of news /
content online?
“Demand Media is the answer to the
question, what would Internet
content look like if it was entirely
and solely driven by advertising
revenue?  Content is commissioned
based on an algorithm that
calculates the lifetime value of the
ads that could be run against it.”
Blogger Sage Ross
The problems newspapers face
• Print costs - on the increase
• Classified advertising - does better online
• The recession, from which the industry will never recover
• ‘News’ in newspapers is by its very nature already old once published
• Top down model, someone chooses what you read for you from on high
• Quite simply it’s a problem of demographics. Especially younger readers are
no longer interested
Let’s get the bad news
stats out of the way 1st
ABC Jan 08/09/2010
Assuming a conservative figure of an average of 2.5 copies per reader, that’s
3.1+ million national newspaper readers lost 2008-2010
Or looking at it another way
That’s slightly
more than the
population of
Or around the
same as the
population of
Manchester +
And 500k+ more
than there are
And the long term trend
Or looking at it even longer term,
since 1951 the UK population has
gone up 25% but newspaper
circulations have gone down 30%
And newspaper readers are
getting older. In the US, 2/3 of
the over 55s read a newspaper
every day, for 18-34 year olds
that’s 23%
• Newspaper circulation is down 7 million over the last 25 years while unique
readership of online news is up 34 million in the last 5 years
• Newspaper advertising fell nearly 19 percent this year while web advertising is up 9
percent and mobile advertising is up 18 percent
• More video was uploaded to YouTube in the last 2 months than if ABC, CBS, and
NBC had been airing all-new content every minute of every day since 1948
• We have access to more than 1 trillion web pages, 100,000 iPhone apps, and send
more text messages a day than there are people on the planet
• (From blogger / publisher Arianna Huffington at an FTC Conference on the Future
of Journalism in Washington DC)
And in the US...
The morning paper just isn’t as much of an ‘essential’ anymore
“The thing that worries me most at
the moment about the condition of
journalism is, frankly, who’s going
to pay for the journalists and the
journalism in 10 years’ time? My
kids wouldn’t dream of buying a
newspaper — and we are a
newspaper household.”
BBC Presenter and former
newspaper editor, Andrew Marr
Newspapers no longer ‘essential’
From Pew Research in the US:
• Fewer than half of Americans (43%) say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in
their community "a lot." Even fewer (33%) say they would personally miss reading the local
newspaper a lot if it were no longer available.
• Only 27% of generation Y (post 1977) read a newspaper the previous day compared to 55% of those
born pre 1946
• Less than a quarter of those younger than age 40 (23%) say they would miss the local newspaper
they read most often a lot if it were to go out of business or shut down. That compares with 33%
of those ages 40 to 64 and 55% of those age 65 and older
The importance of word of
mouth and personalisation
ln fact, thanks to the advent of social media,
word of mouth is becoming more important
when it comes to spreading news.
We've already mentioned the TNS Digital
study, which showed that in the UK friends are
the most trusted source of news.
At the same time, in the US AdAge published
a survey showing that Facebook, which is
rapidly becoming the Google of social
networks, drives more traffic to certain key
websites than Google itself, despite having a
third of its traffic.
Meanwhile according to Hitwise, the micro-
blogging platform Twitter overtook UK
newspapers in terms of online reach in March.
“There have always been millions of brilliant minds in the human population...journalism
in the past limited our access to these minds, so we perceived that top papers had the
“few” people worth spending to see. But now that I can find you, or anyone else I deem
smart or wise or reporting real news that I find useful, I can flow to this huge real supply
of intelligence. The profits disappear as the friction between content supply and demand
are gone. “
(Ben Kunz, from planning shop Media Associates and editor of ‘Thought Gadgets’)
Most essential media (Ofcom)
Only 4% of adults chose newspapers and magazines as most
essential media. For 16-24 year olds mobiles are second
ahead of PC+Internet
Trusted media (TNS - Dec 2008)
Print media is no
longer seen as
The reality is, the daily
newspaper read is no longer
as essential as it once used to
be. ln fact, fewer and fewer
consumers see print
newspapers as a prime source
of news.
At the end of 2008, TNS
released its global 'Digital
Worlds / Digital Lives' study.

Out of all countries
surveyed, the UK had the
lowest amount of trust for
newspapers, with 23% saying
they 'highly trusted' (an 8+ on
a score of 1-10) newspapers.
35% said they
highly trusted TV,
while 45% trusted
friends, which
beat online news
into second place
with 40%.
However, what's important
is that this definition of online
news does not include blogs,
which had a high trust rating of
only 6% in the UK.
This links into the trend
we've just mentioned: Thanks
to their online editions,
newspapers are reaching more
people than ever ÷ just not in
Meanwhile in the US, a
Pew Research Study said that
70% of Americans see TV as
an important news source
(down from 82% in 2002), 40%
see the lnternet as an
important news source (up
from 14% in 2002), while only
35% say the same about
newspapers (down from 50%
in 2003).
“The thing that worries me most at the
moment about the condition of journalism is,
frankly, who’s going to pay for the journalists
and the journalism in 10 years’ time? My kids
wouldn’t dream of buying a newspaper —
and we are a newspaper household.”
BBC Presenter and former newspaper editor,
Andrew Marr
High trust’ UK Global
Friends 45% 42%
TV 35% 41%
Online News 40% 40%
Newspapers 23% 39%
Blogs 6% 10%
But - people still want news from respected sources
“Let’s assume you’re a mid-level
government executive, and it’s a
crime to leak information for
purposes of discussion. Are you
willing to leak to a blogger who has
no track record of protecting his or
her own sources, versus the New
York Times, which routinely sends its
people to jail over this question of a
shield law.”
(Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google)
“Let’s talk about Afghanistan.
How many free bloggers are there
that are in a safe-house in
Afghanistan with the necessary
support structure to do the kind
of deep investigative reporting on
what’s really going on in the war?
I’m not talking about the ones
that are embedded in the
96% of ‘new news’ broken by traditional media
Two ways newspapers will evolve
1 - The hybrid future
and the rise of media
2 - The print publication
as an elite product
Newspapers as an ‘elite’
"Not all readers demand
such quality, but the
educated, opinion-leading,
news-junkie core of the
audience always will. They
will insist on it as a defense
against "persuasive
communication," the
euphemism for advertising,
public relations and spin
that exploits the confusion
of information overload.
“Readers need and want to
be equipped with truth-
based defenses.”
Philip Meyer, author of The
Vanishing Newspaper: Saving
Journalism in the Information
“Those papers that wake up
in time will become a
journalistic hybrid
combining the best aspects
of traditional print
newspapers with the best of
what the Web brings to the
(Arianna Huffington)
A hybrid future
Every journalist is a now a
potential blogger
"This isn't just a kind of fad from someone who's an enthusiast of technology.   I'm afraid you're
not doing your job if you can't do those things.   It's not discretionary..."
“...if you don't like it, if you think that level of change or that different way of working isn't
right for me, then go and do something else, because it's going to happen." 
Peter Horrocks, Director of BBC Global News
And they feed off blogs
• A study by George Washington
University and Cision found that 89%
of journalists turn to blogs for
research, 65% to social media sites
like Facebook, 52% to Twitter.  
• And Wikipedia?  Over 6/10 (61%)
consult it.
• Overall 55% of journalists thought
that social media was either
somewhat or very important
• However, at the same time 84% said
it was ’slightly less’ or ‘much less’
reliable than traditional media.
• We now have ‘media brands’
• “The media pillars of the future will
be trusted brands. There will still be
a role for news brands and premium
• “Let’s be clear about this. While
social networking and user-
generated content are important,
the consumer still values brands and
• “We need to stop talking about the
demise of newspapers and start
talking about the rise of news
brands.” (Marcel Fenez, PWC)
PWC - Forget
newspapers or TV
What’s the difference between these two?
• They both are the online versions of traditional media properties...and are
becoming increasingly important to both organisations
• They have both acquired a life of their own outside their traditional media
• They both give journalists an outlet for news and views beyond the
traditional media (staff blogs, wider range of content)
• They both use images and text based stories
• ....and they both use audio and video
Spot the difference?
Is she a writer, a
broadcaster or blogger?
The job of the journalist / blogger
(From Editor and Publisher)
1.Long-form stories and features....but less of those
2.Regular updates during the day - essentially short updates and articles
3.Instant updates - basically tweets
So in summary....
• Print media is in a long cycle of decline, and that won’t end with the
• The print demographic is getting older, especially for the under 30s, print
media simply isn’t on their radar or is part of their lives
• Printed newspapers and magazines won’t die out, but they will become more
specialised, and focus less on news and more on features and investigations
• New and traditional media is converging - traditional media outlets online
adopting new media practices. Journalists acting more like bloggers
• In future it will be less about newspapers, television etc but more about
generic, trusted media brands
What does this mean for brand communicators?
• Stop thinking in terms of print / broadcast / online outlets - think of where content
can go across news brands
• Personalise your information to the journalist / blogger concerned - they are
brands in their own right. What outlets does s/he have other than the normal
publication. Is s/he active on Twitter, does s/he have a blog - both an official and
• Be aware of a reduced news cycle - the press release loop where you go through 12
people to get it approved doesn’t work anymore
What does this mean for brand communicators?
• Stop thinking of the big number. Journalists read blogs. Blogs affect search.
Even a blog with 100 daily readers can have an impact of what people think about
• Without engaging in brand spam, think about how you can integrate your news
operation into social media as a whole
Thank you!
Any questions,

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