Should Newspapers Be Happy With Lower Circulation?

from the ROI dept

We keep seeing stories bemoaning the drop in newspaper circulation numbers among major newspapers, with lots of blame being thrown at the internet (Google and Craigslist most often). However, it appears that some newspapers have finally realized that there’s as cost side to the cost-benefit equation — though, they may have forgotten some of the benefit side. Apparently a bunch of big newspapers have been cutting out expensive aggressive subscriber acquisition techniques (via Romenesko) that result in subscribers who aren’t worth very much to the newspaper and often drop their subscriptions before too long anyway. Of course, there is also a flip side to this. Getting more users is a good thing if you can provide them something of value and make money that way. The problem wasn’t necessarily that the newspapers spent too much trying to get these users, but that they then didn’t provide enough value to make back that investment (and more).

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Should Newspapers Be Happy With Lower Circulation?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Haywood says:

Re: Re: Buggy Whips

I’ve been using this analogy, but if my local paper ceased to exist I’d miss it. It would be somewhat my fault, as I do use the internet and Craig’s list and canceled my subscription.
What is irreplaceable is having someone watching our city government. In a large city with TV stations, that takes its place, but in a small city without a newspaper the elected officials do pretty much anything they want with little oversight.

Rob Blatt says:

re:Haywood/Buggy Whips

Is it a matter of your local newspaper still existing, or a matter of a local news organization still existing? Newspapers are a great form of keeping up on local government (I live in a suburban area and the only way to keep on top of the government in the local paper as well), but there are still ways to improve the model. If the newspaper changed its focus to being a news organization and could better serve you online, RSS, mobile devices or podcasts, would you still value it the same? Is it the physical product that has the value or is it the content that has the value? I think that’s a bigger question to figure out.

I don’t think that the buggy whips are a good example because that is a specific product that is manufactured. Newspapers and organizations create content, not the newspaper itself. If the story was about how it affects printing companies than the buggy whips would make a good analogy.

yeah i work for a newspaper says:

where else will it come from?

Local TV news cannot spend the volume of time giving all of the details that are possible in a newspaper article. They just don’t have the time. So newspapers serve a valuable purpose in giving you the whole story, the rest of the story, as it were.

But someone has to pay those reporters. You have to sell a whole lotta newspapers at 50 cents a pop to pay a stable of reporters, so I guess it’s gotta be the advertisers. But advertisers who pay a few thousand for a newspaper ad will not be willing to pay that for a web ad. They just don’t see the same value. The net income isn’t dollar-for-dollar “replacing” lost print revenue.

So newspapers are left cutting staff, which makes the paper less valuable to readers, who stop subscriptions, which makes advertisers less willing to cut print revenue even further.

It all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, so shut up already!!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...