Thursday, 23 April 2009

Challenging myths about newspapers' woes

Donna Barrett in a comment piece in Editor & Publisher attempts to put readers straight on what she sees as some of the myths and misinformation about the newspaper industry.
She says: "Let's set the record straight: Newspapers still enjoy considerable readership and deliver strong results for advertisers."
Here are some quotes from the article High Time We Set the Record Straight on Newspaper 'Myths':
"Newspapers and their Web sites reach a larger audience than ever before."
"The crisis facing newspapers is not an audience problem. It is a revenue problem."
"Newspapers deliver vital information to communities."
"The recession has led to a significant decrease in ad spending. Everyone is hurting. Newspapers just talk about it more."
"Free sites such as Craigslist are the other factor. These sites siphon off considerable classified advertising."
"It is tough to compete against free, and free doesn’t pay for journalists."

She adds:" There is no shortage of other theories on why newspapers are hurting:
1.) Newspapers are too liberal and drive off readers as a result.
2.) Newspaper publishers are slow to embrace new technology.
3.) Newspapers are losing readers to the Internet.

But Barrett argues: "In reality, none of these theories is responsible for newspapers' woes. Overall readership is growing. Most publishers embrace technological advances to serve their audience, but they face a real-world problem that these advances usually provide much less revenue than their core business
"Finally, newspaper companies are losing classified revenue, not readers, to the Internet. In one of life’s ironies, newspapers are growing audience through the very outlet that takes away so much revenue. Newspaper publishers face many challenges in a changing world. They must answer some important revenue questions if their newspapers are to continue serving our communities as effectively as they have for more than 300 years. The least we can do is make sure the issues are not distorted and misinterpreted."

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