Where O Where Did The Audience Go?

As I was watching Late Night with David Letterman last night, an interview with NY Times columnist Gail Collins got me thinking about from where consumers are getting their news. Letterman asked Collins if he lives until he’s 90, will he still be able to pick up a paper and read the Times. Her response was there is always going to be something he can hold but it may or may not be paper. Then, the two started a chant for “paper, paper, paper…”

I am a paper-lover and am probably biased, but I think there will always be a place for printed media like newspapers and magazines…at least for a few more decades. Coincidentally, I saw the Pew Research Center just came out with theAnnual Report on American Journalism – The State of the News Media and provided some insight on where consumers have been going for their news.

According to the report, most sectors of the news media managed to stop the audience losses they suffered a year earlier, though for some the gain was minimal. News websites and, surprisingly, network TV news saw the greatest growth, while print audiences stood out for their continued decline, which nearly matched the previous year’s 5% drop. The audience growth for network TV was the first increase in a decade.

The good news for newspapers is their digital audiences are growing. Newspaper websites are popular and total audience reach is staying steady. This is why we are seeing more newspaper companies move to the tiered subscription model. Although it’s been slow to implement, this could be the answer to stabilizing newspaper revenue and get staffing back to levels that can handle all the important news within a community and/or region.

So you tell us what you think – when you’re 90, will there still be a NY Times for you to pick up and read or will you pay to read it online?

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