Print is Dying, Not Newspapers

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Newspapers have been struggling and losing readership for some time now. That is not news. But what is news is that a paper like The Christian Science Monitor will now stop printing on weekdays and mostly an online newspaper with a weekend print edition. From the NYTimes:

After a century of continuous publication, The Christian Science Monitor will abandon its weekday print edition and appear online only, its publisher announced Tuesday. The cost-cutting measure makes The Monitor the first national newspaper to largely give up on print.

The paper is currently published Monday through Friday, and will move to online only in April, although it will also introduce a weekend magazine. John Yemma, The Monitor’s editor, said that moving to the Web only will mean it can keep its eight foreign bureaus open while still lowering costs.

I would think this is the beginning not the end for newspapers and we should hear of more papers following this route. However, I don’t think newspapers should really worry too much, because there is a need for them. It’s just the print medium that is struggling. At the end of the day we still need someone to bring us the news – it’s just how we will consume it that is changing. To this point here is a report from MarketingCharts, showing that newspapers websites are seeing increased traffic and engagement is at an all-time high.

Newspaper websites each month attracted, on average, more than 68.3 million unique visitors (41.4% of all internet users), during the third quarter of 2008 – a record number, and a 15.8% increase over the year-earlier quarter, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

Moreover, newspaper website visitors generated an average of 3.5 billion pageviews per month throughout the quarter – an increase of 25.2% over the 2.8 billion pageviews a year earlier – and the highest level for any quarter since NAA began tracking the data in 2004.

The third quarter also set records for active reach percentage (the percentage of active internet users that visit newspapers on an average month), pageviews, pages per person, time per person and visits per person, NAA said.

So, things are not all that bleak, I’m more worried for companies in the business of printing newspapers than for newspapers themselves.

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