Industry reflection: Is print dead, and is the future of journalism purely online?

It is clear that print is declining rapidly in circulation, looking at ABC’s latest figures – but is print dead?

In the second half of 2016 local weekly newspapers in the UK lost print circulation by an average of 11.2 per cent year on year.

And not only did weekly newspapers lose circulation but also regional dailies, which fell by an average of 12.5 per cent in the same period.

The Press Gazette said “pressure on advertising means most UK regional newspapers are currently seeing declining overall revenue”(1). They also suggested the decline is “possibly fuelled by cover price rises, editorial cutbacks and readership moving to online”(2).

While print has been declining there has been a rapid growth in online readership which suggests journalism is moving towards being purely digital. Reportedly, “nearly every regional newspaper website audited by ABC recorded strong growth in the second half of 2016”(3).

However there is still a glimpse of hope for the survival of national newspapers as in January this year (2017) The Times and The Observer both boosted their sales in print year on year. According to ABC, “The Observer rose 1.4 per cent to 185,752 and paid-for sales of The Times rose 3.8 per cent year on year to 379,861.”(4)

Although the two nationals have seen a positive growth in print, it doesn’t mean they are performing well. Reportedly, their figures boosted due to the distribution of free bulk copies “at places like hotels and airports”(5). By distributing free copies there is a high chance revenue would be lost, as it still costs them to print the extra copies. Therefore even if circulation increases, income will still decline.

In conclusion, print definitely seems to be dying rapidly and online journalism is booming. There doesn’t seem to be any money that can be made from print journalism anymore and it is clear that online is the way to go forward for the media.








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