Will Your Newspaper Be Around in Five Years?

Will your newspaper be around in five years? I don’t think anyone knows for sure what will happen, but I think it’s a safe bet you won’t have the same number of newspapers in your market in five years (and I’m not saying there will be more). I know there are a lot of people who will continue to get their news from print, just as there are people who still continue to buy their music on vinyl. It’s the experience and nostalgia of it all.

As much as I like to print, there are a few strong arguments for why it just doesn’t make sense anymore as a format. And why I think your local paper won’t be printed in five years:

  • Content – there is less variety from one newspaper to the next. When you can read the same story in any newspaper around the U.S., and access much of that information for free online, what motivation do you have to get the news in print? As news organizations continue to reduce staff, there will be fewer reporters to write original content. And let’s be honest, by the time your paper lands in your driveway, you’ve heard about most of the stories on the front page. So content won’t save print, maybe readers will…
  • Readers – what is a newspaper without readers? You can’t maintain a circulation base today. There is too much choice in the market and consumers are fickle. They will subscribe today and unsubscribe tomorrow. Local papers have little to motivate subscribers to stay on, with less and less each month. And don’t expect readers to save the paper. In survey after survey, most share the same outlook on the future of print. It’s a “nice to have”, but they can live without. Well, at least there’s advertising…
  • Advertisers – as long as there’s advertisers, papers will be okay, right? Even in smaller markets, businesses are starting to realize there are more effective ways to reach consumers (and track advertising). Local search is replacing traditional image advertising in local markets. Mobile advertising will not help to save print. You just don’t know how many people really read a newspaper and click on a link, and advertisers want to know this stuff. But the format of print can’t be replaced…
  • Format – in case you haven’t noticed, everyone is going green. Whether they really want to save the world, or just think it’s what their customers want to hear, companies are getting on board. And when it comes to newspaper, they just aren’t that green. It takes a lot of electricity to power production. Tons of paper and ink are required. Delivery trucks have to transport the news. Beyond the environmental impact of newspapers, the cost of production is incredible. It takes a lot of money to crank out that daily or weekly edition. Regardless of how good it looks, it doesn’t make sense to print the news anymore.

This is not the first time we’ve seen changing formats transform an industry. You don’t get your music on 8-tracks, records or cassette tapes anymore. Few of us are buying movies on VHS. And a few of us have ditched published books for the Kindle. But I don’t know, there’s a lot that could happen. Maybe your paper will still be around in five years. Then again, where are you getting your information from right now?

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