Print news media is dying

Print news media is dying

Print news media under threat is not an exclusive. But what of its future asks Jessica Pardoe in this guest blog.

Jessica Pardoe

When did you last read a newspaper? We consume news through TV, mobile apps, PC and social media. In fact, it’s becoming unusual to pick up a newspaper. There is an exception: if it’s handed out for free on our way to work.

Print new media challenge

Ad-funded newspapers such as The Evening Standard and The Metro are the exception, not the rule.

How can traditional papers generate enough revenue to remain afloat without ditching everything that they stand for? It’s a challenge for those in the journalism industry and the public relations industry alike.

Clickbait and advertising excess

Media outlets such as The Daily Mail, The Sun, and The Mirror flourish in digital and print. Their success is due to two factors:

  1. Clickbait headlines attract visitors and readers

  2. Articles are inundated with advertisements

Headlines such as “Love Island’s Greg LEAVES the island”. The headline doesn’t explain that the contestant flew home a day early for a funeral. The exaggerated title makes you want to click and find out more.

Then there’s the issue of ads. They are everywhere you look. It’s impossible to avoid them.

I click on ads without meaning to. Sometimes because they’re hard to miss I click on them with intent too. It’s easy to see how these news outlets make their money.

Survival of the slimmest

An alternative model sees newspapers offering subscription access to their articles. The Telegraph offer premium content as part of their paid-for packages. The Guardian promise ad-free content in exchange for £5.99 a month. The Times posts content behind a paywall after it’s been on their website for a few days.

Charging for news content takes newspapers back their traditional business model. It’s an innovative way of generating income. It means that papers who don’t want to abandon their values can thrive.

What does this mean for the public relations industry?

The print is dying debacle is an issue for people working in media relations. It devalues print coverage as readership falls. It makes it harder to get stories into news media.

The rise in subscription models will influence the way that practitioners pitch media. Reach will fall for articles you have to pay to access than those you do not.

But I’d rather have the challenge of obtaining coverage in digital publications that have adopted a subscription model rather than see them disappear altogether.

It’s sad that print is dying out, and I’m still a big advocate of #BuyAPaper. But you can’t fight digitisation. All organisations, including newspapers, must evolve if they want to survive.

This guest post is by Jessica Pardoe, digital PR & outreach executive at Tecmark.

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