The traditional print version of newspapers worldwide has suffered serious setbacks in recent years, to the point that some industry experts are predicting the ultimate demise of print newspapers. But there are creative ways to keep the newspapers in business and profitable, and this paper sheds light on those potentially successful strategies. Also, a news service should be available that reports instantly important economic and business news to points all over the globe. The emergence of smartphones make it easy and practical for that kind of pivotal economic information to be uploaded and used.
What Has Happened to the Newspaper Industry?
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international forum (with membership in 34 countries) that seeks to provide a vehicle for governments to work together in the effort to find solutions to common problems, the growth of the global newspaper market slowed down to "…about zero growth in 2007" and into "negative growth since 2008" (OECD, 2010, p. 32). The North American newspaper industry has had negative growth in 2008 (-14%) and in 2009 (-18%). In the Asia Pacific region the decline in newspaper industry was estimated at -6% in 2009, OECD reports on page 32.
In fact in the United States there was a 34% drop-off in newspaper business from 2004 to 2009, which is very dramatic. In the United Kingdom the drop-off from 2004 to 2009 was 22%, and in Japan there was an 18% drop-off in newspaper business in that same time frame. That said, Japan has 526 paid daily newspapers that are printed and circulated on an average day (per 1,000 population), and number two is Norway with 458 paid daily newspapers (OECD, 33).
It is an unfair exaggeration to suggest that newspapers are dying every day, or that there ultimately will not be printed versions of newspapers. Indeed, Japan provides "…five of the world's top 10 paid for dailies ranked by total average circulation"; the Yomiuri Shimbun averages a daily circulation of nearly 10 million copies, the most of any daily paid newspaper in the 34 OECD countries (OECD, 34). Next in total numbers is Bild (Germany), with 3.1 daily papers in circulation; The Sun in England is third with 3 million circulation; in Korea The Chosun IIbo has a daily circulation of 2.3 million; and in the U.S., the U.S.A. Today has a daily circulation of 2.3 million (OECD, 34).
The United States has the largest number of persons employed in the newspaper publishing industry; next is Germany, then the UK, then France. However there has been a major decline in newspaper employment, OECD explains on page 34. In the ten years between 1997 and 2007, Norway experienced a 53% drop-off in newspaper employment; in Holland the drop-off was 41%; in Germany it was 25%. However, in Spain there was a 63% growth spurt in those same years and in Poland a 30% increase in newspaper employment was experienced (OECD, 34).
Young People Turn to Electronic News Publications
The readership of print newspapers can be evaluated according to the age of readers. In the United States in 1964, 81% of adults read a daily newspaper but by 2008, only 30% of American adults read a daily newspaper (OECD, 46). As to young adults aged 18 to 24, only 31% of that group reports reading a daily newspaper (based on 2008 data); some 73% of individuals in that same age group reported reading a newspaper in 1970. There are more young people (14-19 years) in Germany that read the daily newspaper -- 47% in fact, report reading a newspaper on a daily basis (OECD, 45). Of those in the 20 to 29 age bracket in Germany, 59% read a newspaper daily. In Austria, 61.1% of those between 14 and 19 read newspapers daily and of those 20 to 29 in Austria, 66.7% read daily newspapers (OECD, 45).
What is killing print newspapers isn't just the shortage of readers, it is the drop-off in advertising. In the U.S. there was a 14.6% decrease in ad dollars in 2008, and another 18% drop-off in 2009, OECD reports (3). Some papers are in bankruptcy (the Tribune Company which publishes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune is in bankruptcy), and in many instances the shortfall in ad dollars causes newspapers to lay off workers and cause serious downsizing as well. The recent economic crisis has "amplified" the downward plunge in newspaper employment, circulation, and advertising dollars, OECD adds. This is pivotal because about 57% of the revenues from newspapers come from advertising, and about 43% from newspaper sales (OECD).
All these data reflecting the economic troubles experienced by print newspapers come at a time when there is "an ever-increasing availability of diverse news" and young people are reading papers online, albeit in a more ad hoc style (as opposed to the old style newspaper reader who picked the paper up from his driveway and read it over breakfast prior to reporting to work).
Promising Idea for Print Newspapers -- More and Better Entertainment News
"…although newspapers may not be the most entertaining medium, they are the gateway to entertainment news. Calendar sections provide readers with current events, reviews, and trends in the arts and film industries. When it's time to go to the movies, we turn to the newspaper for listings and locations. Reading about the stars and perusing the attraction ads are preliminary to most forays into entertainment…" (Sayre, et al., 2009)
When a start-up or new innovative idea begins to think about keeping newspapers alive by making the content more attractive, one of the most compelling sections of newspapers is entertainment. It could be among the more promising and appealing additions to today's print newspaper. OECD reports that there are "many promising forms of news creation" that are currently being experimented with; some are being driven by "increasing technological sophistication and resulting decentralized forms of content creation and broad-based participation." This developing innovative approach to newspapers and news content production enables "new intermediaries" that produce and distribute news to come into the market.
Meantime, this paper proposes to help sustain and even grow the circulation and advertising income for newspapers by greatly explaining, reporting, critiquing and analyzing the world of entertainment and celebrities. This paper does not accept that print newspapers are dying on the vine, but rather this paper believes there needs to be new innovations to keep readers informed and even fascinated with the in-depth articles from industries such as television, movies, magazines, the Internet, theatre, and music. The lives and activities of those individuals that are part of those industries need to be fully covered with feature and news stories -- not gossipy, mean-spirited attacks such as those launched by notorious tabloids, but factual articles that follow the rules of journalism.
The recent scandals in the United Kingdom related to the Rupert Murdoch newspapers may have a negative impact on some newspaper readers' view of entertainment, but it should be clear that a legitimate, journalistically excellent approach to entertainment news will be an appealing draw for readers. The fact that reporters working for Murdoch's News of the World tabloid intercepted voicemails and tracked individuals on cell phone devices -- which Stuart Hoare, the original whistleblower's brother explained to British authorities on December 18 in London -- should have no impact whatsoever on a bona fide print newspaper that is rich with interesting and informative stories on the entertainment.
The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) conducted a survey -- designed by the World Association of Newspapers -- of young people and received responses from those between age 15 and 29, to determine: a) the significance of the role the Internet plays in the lives of young people; and b) the challenges imposed by "reaching young people through traditional landline telephone service." The results of the survey show that for the most part, television "dominates as a source for information" on news items; indeed television is the "top medium" for individuals in this age group "…on a number of fronts, from credibility to time spent" (NAA, 2008, p. 1).
The "underlying attitudes and behaviors" that the survey reflects suggests that there "is an interest in news among a significant portion of young adults," and moreover, if newspapers make the right moves "to address the specific needs of younger readers in their communities, there are readership gains to be made" (NAA, 1). The four stages of youthful lives were addressed in the survey: a) living at home or with parents; b) living with a roommate or living alone; c) living with a spouse or a partner; or d) living with children.
Interestingly the most often mentioned area of interest for these young people was "entertainment"; one-third of those questioned chose entertainment. Thirteen percent chose "news" (meaning, local news, national news, international issues, weather and "breaking news" (NAA). Digging a bit deeper shows there is indeed interest in news and other events when it comes to young people. Besides…