Future of newspapers research

Newsroom of The New York TimesThe newspaper industry has always been cyclical, and the industry has weathered previous troughs. Television and the Internet both bring news to the consumer faster and in a more visual style than newspapers, which are constrained by their physical format and their physical manufacturing and distribution. Competing mediums also offer advertisers moving images and sound.

Future of newspapers research

The Search for a New Business Model How Newspapers are Faring Trying to Build Digital Revenue A new study, which combines detailed proprietary data from individual newspapers with in-depth interviews at more than a dozen major media companies, finds that the search for a new revenue model to revive the newspaper industry is making only halting progress but that some individual newspapers are faring much better than the industry overall and may provide signs of a path forward.

Cultural inertia is a major factor. Most papers are not putting significant effort into the new digital revenue categories that, while small now, are expected to provide most the growth in the future.

To different degrees, executives predict newsrooms will continue to shrink, more papers will close and many surviving papers will deliver a print edition only a few days a week.

But some papers are performing quite differently than the norm, some much better and some far worse. These variances suggest that the future of newspapers, rather than being determined entirely by sweeping trends, can be significantly affected by company culture and management-even at papers of quite different sizes.

The study involved 38 newspapers from six different companies providing highly granular data about their digital revenue and sales efforts-creating a robust series of case studies.

The data sought were developed in consultation with the partnering newspaper companies after site visits and interviews with multiple executives. After collecting the data, researchers conducted follow-up interviews to confirm whether the findings reflected broader company performance.

Those findings, in turn, were shared with executives from seven more companies to test how widely they could be generalized. All data was provided on the basis that it would be anonymous. This multi-faceted approach allowed researchers to draw broad conclusions and identify specific case studies, which reveal more than can be discerned from public industry data.

The research approach also yielded a high level of candor in discussions with executives. The vast majority of papers in the United States are small, something that is reflected in our sample.

Of the papers that provided detailed data, 22 have circulations under 25, seven have circulations between 25, and 50, and nine have circulations of 50, or more including three with circulations more thanAcross operations of different sizes in different types of economic settings, the newspapers studied were, on average, losing print advertising dollars at seven times the rate that they were growing digital ad revenue in the last year for which they had complete data.

Executives at the 13 companies involved in this report confirmed that closing the revenue gap remains an uphill and existential struggle.

Future of newspapers research

The most optimistic projections saw digital gains overcoming print losses within a few years; the most pessimistic held that it would never occur.

A number of executives said they did not know when it might happen. Of the 38 papers that provided detailed data about their operations, not all were achieving growth in digital revenue. Seven of those studied suffered declines for the last year for which they had full data.

One stayed the same year to year. Beneath these broad numbers, however, are papers that buck the trend in significant ways and offer the idea that more can be achieved. Some of these outliers also were having more success growing new categories of digital revenue, not just selling the traditional categories more effectively.

One of the papers generating the most digital revenue, for instance, was having significant success selling targeted digital advertising customized based on customer online behavior. This is projected to be the biggest growth area in local digital advertising.

Another company has had dramatic success building a new multi-million dollar a year consulting business helping advertisers and other businesses learn how to market themselves in the digital landscape. At the other end of the spectrum, some papers are falling further and further behind.

The growth in digital revenue is generally slower at smaller papers than at larger ones, though so is the decline in print advertising. That suggests that while the small papers that make up the vast majority of U. Many of the executives who were interviewed are enthusiastic about the prospect for mobile revenue, but so far it amounts to very little.

At the same time, newspapers have made only marginal progress in developing new non-advertising revenue streams, such as hosting events, creating digital retail malls that provide transaction fees or, with the exception of a few papers, becoming digital marketing consultants for their advertisers.

The industry is inhibited by several obstacles that executives themselves candidly acknowledge. One involves the difficulty of changing the behavior of people trained in the ways of a mature and monopolistic industry.The lectures aim to challenge faculty and staff by introducing them to the latest thinking in media research and practice.

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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research.

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The newspaper of the future