Print’s dead? Not yet it ain’t.
You’ve heard it all before, that tired old saying about nü-media killing off newsprint and how the Internet is the future of the written word. “Print’s dead!” they all shout.
No, not yet it ain't.
Because like with most everything else you read online, it just simply isn't true. When looking at the numbers, the cold hard facts, newspapers and magazines are doing just fine.
It has a lot to do with the way major outlets have been diversifying content and how well they actually pay attention to consumers. Are there any prominent organizations out there in the world right now with zero online presence? None. It’s become a necessary backbone to stay relevant, yet many places are still having a hard time finding the proper balance of pleasing online readers with the physical ones (a group that not only still exists, but one that is more useful and abundant than those who only view news online).
According to Nielsen, a surprising 81 percent of monthly newspaper readers still engage with the physical product, with an overall 51 percent reading print exclusively — that is, over half of people who read the news have no contact with the websites whatsoever.
And it’s not just grandma and grandpa skewing the numbers to make it seem like the nation’s population still embraces the black and white. As of now, 13 percent of the U.S. population is 70 years old or older, and that age group only accounts for 15 percent of the total monthly newspaper audience.
In fact, per the survey this is all coming from, it’s now younger readers who scoop up a larger percentage of physical copies. “Notably, Millennials 21-34 make up 25 percent of the U.S. population and now represent 24 percent of the total monthly newspaper readership,” the site adds.
Likewise, the number of magazine titles has stayed fairly consistent from 2008, averaging from about 7,100 to 7,300 in circulation during the seven years data is represented by Statista.
That same site is also optimistic about the future of advertising dollars, it claims “print is projected to account for the majority of magazine advertising spending in the coming years. In 2018, print magazine advertising spending is forecast to amount to 15.23 billion U.S. dollars, while digital magazine ad spend is expected to stand at 4.33 billion U.S. dollars during the same period.”
That’s not to say big names aren’t going under or having to evolve in response to decreased profits. But this could be the result of any number of things. For one, experts agree that online ads just don’t work, and are often too annoying and intrusive to readers — thus pushing them to find somewhere else for uninterrupted content.
Two, there are more outlets available tailored to specific needs, a playing field far more encompassing than anything the industry saw in the early ‘90s and before (when the Internet didn’t even exist). Competition is brutal, and media outliers like VICE, Uproxx, Huffington Post, Elite Daily — hell even The Chive — are taking a fair amount of eyeballs away from old institutions.
Three, the content sucks and people don't want to read it. It could really be as simple as that.
In the next couple of years, expect smarter outlets to swing back towards developing their physical content more. The race to shove everything online might have been a little premature, considering readers haven’t ever moved away from physical content and might now be looking for a written escape because things like cellphones and tablets are more of a ball and chain burden than a tool of enrichment.
Think print's dead? Think again.