CNHI News Service

Opinion

January 23, 2013

Why doomsayers are wrong about newspapers

It seems like each time a newspaper implements a bold new strategy or deviates from its traditional business model, pundits interpret those changes as acts of desperation. Interestingly, these are often the same pundits who claim newspapers are not changing fast enough.

Developments such as reduction of publication frequency and online subscriptions should be viewed through an objective lens – as the innovation needed to secure quality journalism and a sustainable business model for the future.

The transformation of newspapers is based on several factors. Changing business dynamics are forcing newspapers to rethink how best to use their strengths - local news and content, local sales forces, insights about the community and strong local brands.

For example, newspapers are focused on investing in original content most valued by their communities - enterprise journalism essential to society - and finding new approaches to other kinds of news. Digital platforms are giving newspapers the ability to offer advertisers more choices, better measurement tools and a greater return on their investment.

Second, newspapers are working to build sustainable online businesses. While printed newspapers certainly have an audience for the foreseeable future, there is no question that digital is the platform of the future. News products that use the best of both – the serendipity, brows-ability and depth of newspapers with the immediacy, share-ability and discovery of digital – have an advantage among consumers.

Finally, newspapers must focus on their position at home. Research shows newspapers are the most trusted media outlets in their communities. They are working to maintain that position as hubs of local information, activity and conversation.

Newspapers will survive because the value they provide to readers and advertisers is enduring in this new digital ecosystem, as the data show.

A Newspaper Association of America study conducted by Frank A. Magid Associates shows 74 percent of Internet users in a given week turn to content originated by newspapers. For newspapers, this means more ways to attract new audiences and build revenue.

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