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Extra! Extra! Examining the plight of print.

In Books, Business, Entertainment, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Print Media, Technology on August 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

electronic_printAre newspapers dead? Since most of the mass distribution for Deer in Headlines is still in print media, then chances are if you’re reading this it’s probably printed in a newspaper. But it’s also circulated in a fair number of online publications as well so if the publication you’re reading ever went belly-up, you can still find it on the web.

When Amazon’s chairperson, Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post, the publication’s circulation had dropped by 40-percent over the last year. A seriously risky bet, Bezos picked up the media icon for pennies and paid for it out of his own pocket. The intention was to preserve the paper in its current state, but it’s just as likely he will take it to the next logical level – all digital.

Far more costly to produce than their digital counterparts, print publications still have a purpose among certain die-hards and the older generation. There’s something about holding that printed page in your hand that has brings about an emotional response unique to each reader.

I’m kind of caught in the middle. I like having a printed page in front of me, whether it’s a book, magazine or newspaper. But I like the convenience of digital media too. If you’re stuck waiting to be seated at a restaurant or in the doctor’s waiting room, you can always bring up something to read on your smart phone or Kindle.

Eventually, pretty much all periodicals (newspapers, magazines, etc.) will be converted to digital, but in my opinion, it’s not just the media format that’s killing print publications. Less ambitious salespeople and a lack of knowledge among advertisers have also helped contribute to their demise.

Publications, like any other media, survive by the vicious circle of subscribers and advertising. The more subscribers, the more profitable the ad revenue, but if the content is lacking no one is going to subscribe. The numbers drop and ad revenue falls along with circulation.

Plus, have you noticed how much smaller your newspaper is these days? Most have shrunken both in sheet size and number of pages, with some content located online to drive people to the publisher’s website. As a practical consumer, why would you pay $1.50 for a publication that has less content than it did when it was 75-cents? Unfortunately, if you want to keep getting a print publication you’ll have to pay whatever price they ask.

Advertising rates are going up too, though that one thoroughly perplexes me. Lower circulation should drive down ad prices, but many publishers are trying to recover lost revenue by adding web-based exposure in conjunction with print packages. For some, it’s too little, too late, however.

An ever more computer-savvy population will eventually drive print to its ultimate end. Attempting to preserve it will be a costly and finally pointless endeavor but some people are making the effort, as Bezos seems to be. But then again, he’s a billionaire and that’s what it would take – deep pockets.

No business can continue to operate in the red, always hemorrhaging money. Unless the operator is treating it like a hobby and has the disposable income to keep it going, it will die.

If you want to keep the presses running on your local newspaper, I suggest the following. First, contact the publisher and remind them how important the paper is to the community. If you are part of a business or organization, make sure to send press releases and other news-worthy information to the editors so they have good, local content to draw from. Include detailed contact information and artwork (photos).

Demand local coverage written by local correspondents. Small, hometown papers can do better financially on their own level than national publications when they have good, locally-created content to drive circulation and advertising.

If you own a business or are part of a community organization, advertise in the local newspaper but do it correctly. You need to display your ad regularly and consistently in the same publication for at least several months before you see a response. Be consistent and be patient. And finally, go buy a paper! You’re helping the community and the economy.


Deer In Headlines is syndicated by and intellectual property of Gery L. Deer / GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing. All rights reserved.


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