Why print may not be dead


By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

News that just 31 per cent of the population reads a newspaper is a depressing but not wholly unexpected statistic.

That figure, reported in the Guardian from an annual survey by communications watchdog Ofcom, is down 10 per cent on the previous year.

We are told that TV, internet and radio all surpass printed newspapers with regard to the source of our news and information.

Newspapers have been in decline for years; the question long ago changed from ‘how’ to ‘how much’.

But should those of us who continue to enjoy sitting down with a paper and a cuppa be worried?

Quite possibly, but that depends on a number of factors.

News nowadays comes to us via a huge variety of sources directly to our phones, tablets and laptops.

It is all about immediacy and print hasn’t been able to compete on that score since rolling news channels first came to our screens. In fact, probably since radio began.

Add in social media where citizen journalists write their own ‘news’ and one could be forgiven for thinking we have reached a point of no return

But it should not be forgotten that hardworking professional journalists are generally the source of most news that we read.

Their words and pictures almost always (except in cases of held back exclusives) rightly appear online first, before filtering down to print editions.

But until newspaper websites can convert hits to cash they will be unable to stand alone without their traditional print versions.

Thus, we may find that the downward spiral of printed news is flattening out, reaching a level, albeit low and of mainly older readers that remains sustainable.

But maintaining this will mean a sea change in policy, both by national and regional titles, to more analysis, comment and feature, leaving hard news to be placed elsewhere.

This may go against the grain for hardnosed newspapermen, but the day is not that far away when we will all have smartphones and devour news as it happens.

A switch in strategy to alternatively written content may well sustain the print version for a little longer, but newspaper groups must surely hope rethinking their entire approach – an ongoing process, one presumes – will pay dividends.

And all this will stand alongside the world of social media and the fast-growing news sections on individual organisation or company websites as important content providers as the world of information continues to fracture.

And that’s without mentioning the mighty Facebook which a whole generation of teenagers and twentysomethings have come to regard as their news channel.

The big question is whether newspapers can create the top quality online content that readers would surely be willing to pay for and whether they can convert clicks to cash by monetising websites through high end advertising.

Deep South Media, as a newsroom content provider, will continue to embrace all aspects of technology, delivering the best possible service for clients and readers.

And on that note, may we wish you all greetings of the season and we look forward to renewing acquaintances in 2016.