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).

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    PTTG, 3 Oct 2007 @ 12:13am

    Buggy Whips

    People still make buggy whips, they just don't make all that many. Will I see the day where (physical) newspapers are more like a telegram? Possibly...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Grandfather Time, 3 Oct 2007 @ 3:19am

      Re: Buggy Whips

      Hopefully it would not be a singing telegram....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Haywood, 3 Oct 2007 @ 5:18am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rob Blatt, 3 Oct 2007 @ 6:43am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bill Pytlovany, 3 Oct 2007 @ 8:19am

    Newspaper Web site and Popups

    I think everyone has made it clear, we hate pop up advertising.

    Yet, I notice the most common use of legitimate pop up advertising seems to be TV, radio and Newspaper web sites. Ironically, ad revenue on the web is starting to match their print ad income.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ChurchHatesTucker, 3 Oct 2007 @ 3:34pm

    Less is More?

    Isn't the fact that newspapers are no longer ubiquitous a selling point? Wouldn't the demographic that still reads newspapers be particularly attractive to certain advertisers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    yeah i work for a newspaper, 4 Oct 2007 @ 7:13am

    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!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.