Newspapers still the most reliable, continue to attract younger audiences

The findings of the 15th edition of a data-heavy Newspaper of Association of America report (Circulation Facts and Figures) released recently may be interesting to publishers and editors in India. Rick Edmonds, writing for (The Poynter Institute), says that among 175 papers responding to a Newspaper Association of America (NAA) Survey, the median ‘bottom-line contribution’ of circulation had risen from 42.6 per cent in 2011 to 56.1 per cent in 2014. He quotes John Murray, NAA’s vice-president of audience development and author of the report saying that the significance of that improvement should not be underestimated. “I think we haven’t told the story very well of how the industry has managed to stay profitable after five to seven years of declining ad revenue,” Murray told Edmonds.

Typically, Murray found the median rate for a one-week seven-day subscription rose from $3.66 in 2008 to $4.50 in 2011 to $5.74 in 2014. That is a 64 per cent increase over the six years. Edmonds mentions that three quarters of the papers now also charge non-subscribers for digital access and that typically the higher-priced print subscription is bundled with digital access. Nearly 60 per cent of ‘paid starts’ in 2014 were for this combination, he writes.

If that’s about the commercial side of running a newspaper, I found encouraging news relating to the editorial side from an article written by Brian Tierney for (The Inquirer/ Daily News). The skyrocketing audience of newspaper content on all platforms, he writes, is evidence that journalism still touches an important chord in society today. In reality, more Americans read newspaper content today than ever before, he adds. Some 88 per cent of adults - that's 176 million Americans - consume newspaper media on digital platforms, according to recent comScore research. “And despite popular myths (must be indeed heart-warming for publishers and editors of newspapers), comScore shows that newspapers continue to attract younger and younger audiences: 92 per cent of women and 87 per cent of men ages 25 to 34 read newspaper content, with similar numbers in the 18 to 24 age group.”

It's easy to see why, Tierney points out. “In a world of information overload, newspaper content remains the reliable shortcut to news that is actually accurate and interesting. Some 59 per cent of Americans trust newspaper content, compared with the 37 per cent who trust information on social media. This trust allows journalists to shine the spotlight on matters that require our attention, wherever they find them. It allows newspapers to carefully cover issues of local importance, from government to sports to the newest restaurant. And it is that trust, earned over years of shining the spotlight on such issues, which allows investigative reporters to be taken seriously and gives newspapers the power to confront corruption - even in law enforcement.” So, clearly, newspapers have quite a bit going for them.


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