The way forward for newspapers

As the newspaper industry struggles to cope with its declining physical sales, analysts propose the solution going forward.

Can they reinvent themselves before its too late?










The daily and Sunday newspapers in the UK are hardly making a profit. Sales are dropping with each passing year. Previously, we talked about how shareholder expectations played a major role in the downward spiral of a once flourishing industry. But, is there a way to revive this medium?

Dr Roman Gerodimos, senior lecturer in Global Current Affairs at Bournemouth University, said, ‘Local newspapers fail to have a hook with the younger generation. People don’t dislike newspapers, it’s just that the current system is not working; something like i on the other hand, is working.’

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the i had a daily circulation of over 100,000 copies in January this year. In the same post, Andrew Mullins, managing director of i and The Independent, said: ‘i’s first ABC figures prove that our belief in quality print media has not been misplaced.’

The Paywall

One year back The Times introduced the paywall. It immediately lost 90% of its online readership. A year on, it claims to have 100,000 subscribers behind its paywall. These individuals pay £2 a month for exclusive content.

Blogger, journalist and co-author of The Online Journalism Handbook, Paul Bradshaw, discusses the shortcomings of the paywall, its benefits and the importance of standing out when you’re behind one:

Chris Wheal, former editor of Insurance Times and contributor to The Guardian says, ‘When people go onto Amazon, they go to PayPal. People will forget that there was a brief period where everything on the net was free; they will get used to paying.’

But best-selling author Andy McDermott, whose novels have been sold in 30 countries and translated in 25 languages worldwide says, ‘If I find a paywall, I won’t bother reading it. If its news, I’ll read it on the BBC. I’m sure Rupert Murdoch hates the fact that we have a publicly funded body like the BBC for something he could have used to his benefit.’

Dr Gerodimos says that brand loyalty will play a big part in determining whether people will pay for exclusive content.

What are the other options newspapers have at their disposal to entice audiences in an age where they are fighting for attention with other forms of online and offline communication?

Multimedia and apps

Wheal says it all comes down to multimedia and utilizing all the tools on the web.

‘Local newspapers need to engage with audiences better. They are getting boring and mundane. Journalists need to be able to do audio, video and learn how to use social media. You need to engage with your readers. They are no longer passive consumers of content.’

Bradshaw says a new platform has emerged with the evolution of tablets like the iPad: ‘Newspapers today are having to deal with different types of consumption behaviour across multiple platforms. Apps can look attractive as there’s a payment mechanism built into it. But it can be misleadingly easy to think that you’re going to put out content and people will pay for it. People still have browsers on those platforms and can still access content for free.’

But media mogul Rupert Murdoch believes that the iPad will be the “game changer” for newspapers. His son James Murdoch, News Corp’s Europe and Asia chief told this website, ‘The problem with apps is that they are much more directly cannibalistic of the print products than the website. People interact with it much more like they do with the traditional product.’

Will apps be the future or will interactive multimedia determine the way news is shaped and consumed? Guess we’ll just have to take our ‘tablet’ and keep an eye on the web.


About Sherwin Coelho

MA Multimedia Journalism student at Bournemouth University. This website is my Masters production project. The aim of this project is to focus on technology and how it is changing the landscape for publishers and artists because of the death of newspapers, magazines, books, CDs and DVDs. Some may argue to the contrary, but I’ll aim to explore how fast the game is changing, what people think of it and whether it is a good or bad thing.

Posted on July 4, 2011, in Newspapers. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Schnelle Carvalho

    A well written piece, with the facts well stated. It states the plain, simple, truth that when answers r just a click away, why go out n buy a newspaper? Loved the pun on the ‘tablet’ at the end! Keep it up!

  2. Hi! i work for one of the leading newspapers in Dubai. Working in the Sales team, I know exactly the ways and means we strive to gain readership. Given the UAE’s small population and low newspaper penetration rate, papers are under constant pressure to increase their circulation and boost advertising revenue.

    The imperative to boost advertising revenue has a major effect on content but due to Government barriers and self-censorship, people take up to the internet for more “real news”. Another tool in the hands of editors and publishers to help increase circulation is changing design and style of the paper, although its effect is limited.

    In most parts of the world, newspapers have traditionally been more influential than
    television in shaping public opinion. With the rise of participatory culture of the Web, many such opinion leader and leading voices have diluted the effect that the newspaper once had.

  3. The physical form of a newspaper will be obsolete in a few years. With the advent of smart phones and high internet literacy rates, physical newspapers will be replaced by digital versions. This seems to be the inevitable truth for me.

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