Change Or Die: Newspaper Advertising Hits Lowest Level Ever Recorded
The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) recently released data on newspaper advertising revenue for the first quarter of 2012, and the steep decline continues (see chart above). Total print advertising in U.S. newspapers dropped to $4.36 billion from January to March, which was 8.2% below the same period last year, and fell to the lowest level of advertising revenue since the third quarter of 1982. Adjusted for inflation, the advertising expenditures in the first quarter reached the lowest level since the NAA started tracking quarterly advertising expenditures in America’s newspapers back in 1971. Compared to the peak of $18.26 billion (in 2012 dollars) in 2000, advertising revenues have fallen by more than 75%, and appear to be on a sharp downward trajectory.
Many in the news industry lament this as the end of journalism, but it isn’t really. It’s the end of a business model. Printing the news on dead trees isn’t going to be a viable way to run a business much longer. People increasingly want their news faster, and delivered to them electronically. Print journalism can’t meet that demand.
But journalism will still be around. We’ll always need the reporters on the scene with notebooks, recorders and cameras. But how they disseminate the information they gather must change, and it has been changing.
In the future, I think we’ll see fewer monolithic local news sources. Rather than having one “hometown newspaper” that covers everything from local politics to local sports, we may see the rise of websites and other forms of media that cover facets of local news. Maybe there will be a media outlet dedicated entirely to local sports, and another dedicated entirely to local government.
My point is that the future of journalism is specialization, and that will be a positive development. Americans will be better served by a plethora of smaller media outlets competing with one another than a few larger media outlets exercising a sort of monopoly over certain geographic areas.Tags: journalism, Media, newspapers