Monday, March 14, 2011

The State of Newspapers from PEW’s 2011 Report

Some observations on newspapers from PEW’s 2011 State of the News Media report:

- though ad revenues for most other media rose in 2010 by 5%+, newspapers saw a 6.4% decline (though this was less than the 26% drop in 2009)

- print circulation dipped 5% for the daily and 4.5% for the Sunday in the April-September, 2010, count, but this was half the 2009 drop

- most newspapers are making a profit averaging at about 5%; this is less than 1/4th of the profit newspapers were making in the 1990s

- recent online pay experiments have shown that less than 1% of readers are willing to pay for online access

- the New York Times is considering a metered pay wall which would allow “free access to the home page and to articles from links and search engines,” but charge when an individual had reached a defined threshhold of articles accessed in a month

- hyperlocal news coverage is being rebuilt at some metro papers like the Oregonian; this model relies on most content coming from volunteer or semi-professional reporters, with some professional staff, editing and coordination

- after newsprint prices fell in 2008 and 2009, they were back up 20%-30% in late 2010 and early 2011

- newspaper readership is edging down to a third of Americans: “37% of Americans report reading a newspaper in any form ‘yesterday,’ down from 39% in 2008 and 43% in 2006"

- though circulation continues to decline, hikes in single issue and circulation charges have held the revenue decline to a drop of about 10% from the peak of $11.2 billion in 2003; advertising revenue, by contrast, has fallen 40%

- to compensate for higher costs, news reports are getting “skinnier” with concern that this will result in even more loss in audience

- “Full-time newsroom employment fell by 11,000 from 2007 to 2009, to 41,500. That is down 26% from its peak at the turn of the century.”

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