4 Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing


Journalists – and especially former journalists – love to pontificate on the demise of the industry.

As one of those former journalists, I plead guilty.

There are many reasons why the traditional newspaper model is already dead, but here are the four BIG reasons.

1. Readers don’t want to pay for news anymore

There’s this idea out there that readers never really paid for journalism. That paid subscriptions were about printing and delivery costs and that advertising actually paid for the reporting and editing of the news.

This is technically true.

But it is a meaningless argument. People used to shell out $0.50 and up to $2.00 for their daily papers and up to $5 on Sunday. Now they don’t. The reason is that they can get the same content online for free.

2. Print is a poor delivery system in the digital age

Readers are no longer content with reading text. They want interactivity and multimedia. It is no longer acceptable to present news “one way.” News needs the ability to be shared. People want to comment on it. They want accompanying videos and infographics.

They also want news that is seconds old instead of a day old. And, unfortunately, print is unable to deliver on that type of experience.

3. Traditional advertising models have collapsed

All you need to know about why print advertising used to pay the bills for newspapers and why digital ads do not is this:

Print ads were finite. There was only so much space for ads in a daily newspapers. That made that space valuable.

Digital ads are infinite. There are no space limitations because it is easy to create another webpage. This makes digital ad space cheap.

Do the math.

4. Newspapers have been slow to innovate

They let themselves get seduced by technology without properly understanding it. So they gave away their content and allowed the technology companies – particularly device manufacturers such as Apple – to dictate the rules.

They were very slow to take advantage of the inherent qualities of the Internet. Instead, they continued to write and report for the print editions and post them online. Many of them are still stuck in this model.

They should be writing and reporting for the web – experimenting and inventing new ways to tell stories. But, unfortunately, they continue to follow.


What about you? Why do you think newspapers are losing?


Journalism as a Community Builder

Technology Can’t Replace Journalism

4 Responses to “4 Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing”

  1. Hi, i am actually working in a communication agency in Senegal and since we are more institutional , specialized in press and public relations , i am starting to be familiar with that ” world “. yes , ” World ” because newspapers use to be something really precious back in the days , it was just like a world, people were happy to enter because of the information in it but also to enjoy the entertainment . They were ready to pay to get a bit smarter and have fun at the same time. And they still are, they just need to be given a reason to buy something they can have for free in the internet.
    I’m not going to tell you about how it works here in Africa because i would have to write a whole article ; so i’m just going to tell you what i think about the matter in general .

    Journalists have forgotten how challenging the market is right now , and it’s not for the best interest of readers . The information is given in bulk , everyone wants to publish his news no matter how , it just needs to be out there , whether it’s true or not , whether they need it or not etc…
    I believe that if they try get back to how exclusive and valuable they were before , they may have a chance to survive . Giving an information is not just about writing on something interesting , publishing news and be followed , it also needs to teach readers something beyond the information , the reader needs to realize the value of the information he is getting in order to feel the effort and professionalism in it . That’s what makes the difference between a random person spreading information and the work of a professional ; and that’s also , what makes them spend money on it.
    If newspapers wants to remain actual in this new era where being smart is what makes you survive, journalists need to showcase what made them ” the legendary smart person ” , people use to believe and still believe they are . There needs to be a rule that distinguishes online papers from print ones regarding the types of media and the content itself , or develop tricks i don’t know… just something to make the difference and get their right back.

  2. Great insights, Woduu, I think a lot of your observations about Africa are happening globally.


  1. 13 Ways to Get Publicity from a Journalist. | iwritetheblogggs - February 8, 2015

    […] Buy your local newspaper. At the rate they are failing, you can pick one up for a song — and then have the journalists working on it sing your […]

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