Monday, May 25, 2009

Paper Thin

The Gurn counts itself lucky in that its chosen media is that of the Internet rather than newsprint. Not for us the bourgeoning costs of ink and newsprint, no delivery costs, no worries about falling advertising revenue. Our outgoings for office space and overheads would humble even the most modest of MPs expense accounts.
Scottish daily newspapers however find themselves with their backs to the wall. The very future of famous titles such as The Herald, The Scotsman, and The Daily Record are in question.

'The steep decline in the number of Scots reading newspapers is "alarming", says Magnus Linklater, the former editor of the Scotsman'

In an article in
The Guardian newspaper it is reported that there is a call for young people to be given free subscriptions to Scottish daily and Sunday newspapers. It may be news to newspaper proprietors and companies like Menzies but young people just don’t read newspapers anymore, free or otherwise.
Much has been written about falling newspaper circulation but it is long past the time that actions rather than words are needed for the industry to survive and that doesn't mean free newsprint!


Graisg said...

Free papers? Sarko* tried that , don't know how it's going.

* Please note supporters and detractors of the French president use that word in conversation just as some folk in Nairn might say 'Parkie' in the same vein of thought.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't that there is a newspaper crisis - but instead an advertising crisis. The advertising revenues that sustained newspapers previously have been in decline, not least because they were overcharging on rates. Also, newspapers have been slow to move online and try and innovate. After all, what so special about the premise "Yesterday's news, today!"? Newspapers that fail are due to poor management, who ignored the challenges as they approached, and end up paying for it later.

- Brian, My Nairn

Nairn said...

‘The problem isn't that there is a newspaper crisis - but instead an advertising crisis’.

I disagree, there is a rapidly falling readership of newsprint, which constitutes a crisis for the newspaper industry, with the average readership age now being around fifty with younger people neither buying nor reading newspapers – period.
Fewer people buying newspaper means a loss of the cover price for the title but more importantly reduced readership equals instant lost advertising revenue, as what you can charge for advertising is dependent upon circulation figures.
As revenue falls the worse the attempted fixes become, for example editorial staff are laid off which equals poorer content. This measure may seem like a quick fix but if anything is likely to promote a newspaper it is unique quality content, downgrade your editorial and you will lose even more readers.
Many newspapers have gone on line but have failed miserably to make money such as they enjoyed from print editions, charging for access to content hasn’t worked so far.
The Internet has spread advertising monies thin, a parallel perhaps to when commercial terrestrial television ceased and dozens of satellite channels opened up. But this is much worse as some potential advertisers are now questioning the very need to pay to flaunt their wares beyond their own websites.
How many people reading this use google or a similar search engine when they want to buy something rather than look at a newspaper?
In the current economic climate the traditional main streams of advertising, property, cars, and jobs have all but gone, newspapers could hardly have seen this particular crisis coming.
The loss of Scottish daily newspapers would leave a vast empty void with regard to reporting the political, financial, and social workings of a country. This would (If Scotland were lucky) be reduced to a few lines in the Scottish print edition of a paper produced south of the border.
Newspapers have had a hugely important role in society, free speech, promoting democracy, and giving us a fairer society to name but three qualities. You only have to look at MPs expenses as being exposed in The Telegraph to see the important role that a newspaper can still have, the trickle of revelations has lasted over several weeks but still remains of high interest to the public (And to MPs!)
It is easy to blame management but in simplistic terms it is the world that has changed beyond any control that they could exert, news has become free on the Internet and looks old by the time you read it in newsprint.
I suspect there will be further attempts to extract money from the masses to access material on line, meanwhile the likes of this blog will continue and hundreds of thousands like it bringing news for free to those who care to read it.

You can maybe reinvent the wheel in the case of newspapers, but that is of little use if no one wants to buy dead trees anymore, and when was the last time you read of a new newspaper title starting up?

Anonymous said...

"How many people reading this use google or a similar search engine when they want to buy something rather than look at a newspaper?"

Exactly the point - there is a huge gulf in the cost per reader of internet vs print and broadcast media.

The suggestion is that internet advertising is too cheap, and media advertising too expensive.

Until a middle ground is found, newspapers - especially those which have provided little business focus towards the internet, where they can gain significant readership - will continue to founder.


- Brian

Nairn said...

“Exactly the point - there is a huge gulf in the cost per reader of internet vs print and broadcast media”.

No… you have completely missed my point.
It has nothing to do with advertising costs but the fact that retailers are questioning the need to advertise in any external media when customers will find their goods on the company’s website through use of a search engine.
In other words media such as newspapers are being bypassed, hence my question (And to make my point) as to how many readers of the Gurn used a search engine rather than look at a newspaper when they wanted to buy an item.