There’s been a lot of talk recently about the decline of the newspaper, or should I say print-based news (be it national or local). The Financial Times recently slashed 25 jobs ahead of new plans to step-up its game in terms of the generation and sourcing of stories through online channels, but is print really fading away, or is it simply taking on a new form?
I think it would be fair to say that, at this moment in time, print most certainly still plays an integral role in terms of keeping people up-to-date; certainly the FT is unlikely to divert its attention away from its print-based edition entirely. Rather, the media outlet is more likely to use its hard copy to provide more in-depth intuitive analysis of the news, which after all is the paper’s strong point. Time will tell of course.
As Roy Greenslade in the Guardian’s Greenslade blog wrote just last week in his review of the state of print media in Germany, ‘Advertising is gradually declining, but profitability has been sustained by cover price rises’, and we’re experiencing that in the UK too. After all, only recently The Observer and Sunday Times raised the cost of their cover price with plenty of avid readers still relying on the paper as a vital source of news.
Broadly speaking, print-based media still remains strong, but it’s much more competitive and focused than ever before.
There’s certainly a strong element of contraction, but there are still new titles emerging that have a defined focus. One of the most interesting recent launches was that of The World Weekly, distributed free throughout London, which aims to help readers “make sense of the world we live in” by collating articles from titles across the World.
As founder of The World Weekly, Rory O’Grady, said “We live in an increasingly interconnected and complex world, and there is a lot of room in the market for a title that helps the reader make sense of it all.” In this case, the print-based publication is being used as a central place in which to collate stories of interest from across the World, many of which would have appeared online beforehand. What The World Weekly intends to do is to provide context independent of political, religious or cultural biased to FTSE 100 companies, top law firms, hedge funds, hotels and airlines . A tough order maybe, but with an impressive line-up of rotating editors, including Cathy Galvin, former deputy editor of the Sunday Times magazine, it’s certainly achievable and, more importantly, needed.
What’s interesting though is that even here, print is not being used as an isolated medium. Rather, as reported on journalism.co.uk, O’Grady intends to offer a next-generation digital platform or ‘social network of high-quality information’ which is expected to be launched in 12 months’ time. The print edition is being used to build the brand and drive traffic, whilst creating strong links with leading publishers.
The reality is that times are rapidly changing.
Interestingly, and not surprisingly, those assembled at Newsworks’ Table Summit are reported to have agreed that ‘tablets are not killing newspapers, they’re offering a lifeline to the revitalisation and rebirth of ‘news brands’. Representatives, including Guardian Media Group, Mail Newspapers, The Independent, Expedia and News International, all provided their take on the future of the newspaper industry, with Guy Zitter, managing director at the Mail, reportedly stating it’s now a case of ”Adapt or die”.
Therein lays the buzz word of the moment – ‘adapt’. It’s not the first time media groups have needed to change their operations according to the times and won’t be the last. It all depends on how publishers and their respective editorial teams are able to use a combination of both online and offline channels to best reach their target audience.
By Emma Plummer