The decline of print journalism is a hotly debated topic in the media industry and an issue that was recently on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where it was reported that newspaper revenues have dropped by nearly 50% in the last decade and this loss in revenue has resulted in less regional newspapers being printed. In addition to this, the total number of journalists in full-time work has fallen by 6,000 in 10 years – from 23,000 in 2007 to 17,000 in 2017.
The closure of regional newspapers in particular is highlighting problems with local democracy as local councils are reporting less information to the public about court cases and various issues surrounding planning permission and council decisions, meaning communities are less aware about what is going on within their constituencies.
As the closure of regional and national print newspapers continue and titles become digitalised, this raises a key question – is print journalism dying?
According to the BBC, an estimated 58% of the country has no daily, or regional title and rural areas are increasingly reliant on London-based media and their own social networks for local news. Since 2005, more than 200 local newspapers closed in the UK and the number of regional journalists have halved to around 6,500.
To address the issue of the declining number of print newspapers at a local and national level, Theresa May launched a review earlier this year to investigate this decline, warning that the closure of hundreds of titles is a ‘danger to our democracy.’ This review aims to explore the sustainable funding for the print press at national, regional and local news organisations.
Other problems that could arise with the complete digitalisation of print journalism is that some individuals in society who do not have access to computers, could become isolated from local issues. There is also the question about how much of what is read online is true, authentic journalism. In fact, May’s review will look into ‘low-quality’ journalism and the prevalence of ‘click-bait’, investigating the quality of the news being published online.
At a national level, one newspaper that became the first national newspaper to become digitalised was the Independent that closed its print pages in 2016, to start a new era as a digital publication. At the time of making this decision, rapid digital growth made the newspaper the UK’s fastest growing quality newspaper site.
Other national newspapers that have also had a positive response online include the Guardian and the Observer that have a combined 140 million browsers worldwide.
At the beginning of 2018, the Guardian’s print circulation was reaching a daily average of 151,625 and for the Observer, the circulation on a Sunday was 175,401. This shows that digital news sites are the favoured option when it comes to reading the news – could these newspapers follow in the footsteps of the Independent and become digitalised in the future?
In our experience, an increasing volume of magazines and newspapers are becoming digitalised, publishing website content as well as hosting a digital version of the print magazine.
This can have many benefits for clients in particular, as hyperlinks directing readers to company websites and other links can be included within the content, enabling companies to track the analytics of who has visited the website. The coverage is often instantly uploaded online, enabling clients to share this content across social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
For print coverage, however, there does still seem to be a certain level of prestige surrounding it, and it does still feel like a grand achievement to have something that you can hold.
Whilst there are many benefits of print and digital journalism, we hope that during May’s review, the outcome finds a way that enables the two platforms to work simultaneously together. For more information about how we can help to increase your company’s media coverage, please click here.