You, Me and Media

October 18, 2011

Like the President state of the Union speech, the American journalism profession has an annual report that informs, summarizes and projects about the industry. Using as the foundation, join me as we look into where media is coming from and heading to.

Reading a newspaper

Media is going through an evolution and technology has been the catalyst of its metamorphosis. How we devour media is also transforming. There is no exception to this rule. In looking at the consumption of media, the web is rapidly gaining ground while other sectors: newspapers, cable TV, audio, newspapers, network TV and local TV is losing. We are going to focus in on “the biggest loser”: Newspapers.

According to, newspapers were the only major media sector to continue to experience ad revenue declines. In previous years, newspaper made money from advertisements sold to be published in the paper and circulation which is the number of paying subscribers. As news consumption becomes more mobile, on device makers (such as Apple, HTC) and software developers (Google, Yahoo) to distribute news content. With the increase in mobile clientele print media has had to move forward to meet demands.  If you look at the sales of mobile devices (including cellphones, laptops, tablets) over the last two years (as an example), there has been an increase in purchases. When I go shopping in the mall, it really amazing to see how many people have some sort of mobile device on them and actively using it (taking pictures for example).

In the 2008 Journal of New Communication Research, Paul Gillin wrote in his article titled New Media, New Influencers and Implication for the Public Relation.  Giilin stated that:

Internet-based social media tools like blogs, podcast, online videos and social networks are giving voice to the opinions of millions of consumers. While main stream media continues to play a vital role in the dissemination of information, even these traditional channels are increasingly being influenced by online conversation. The “new influencers” are beginning to tear the fabric of marketing as it has existed for 100 years, giving rise to a new style of marketing that is characterized by conversation and community. Markets are responding to these forces with a mixture of excitement, fear and fascination.

The impact of this change on newspapers has seen them hit the hardest when looking at profits made. Ownership of newspapers has also change. Seven of the top 25 newspaper in America are now owned by hedge funds, which has virtually no role a few years ago. Now newspapers are forced to operation like a well-managed and profitable business. Having to assess their spending and deducting from the sales to produce a profitable outcome. This has led to many major newspaper companies like the New York Times have reduced the number of journalist on staff. Besides being good at writing, journalist do not bring in any money.

In their article The Death by Advertising by Roland Rust and Richard Oliver in the Journal of advertising they state that:

never has advertising appeared so pale and lifeless. As the Wall Street Journal point out: “the $138 billion USD advertising industry seems unprepared for an interactive future”.

The largest portion of marketing communications dollars formerly designated for mass media now go to non-advertising communications programs such as public relations, sales promotion, sponsorships, and special events. “Advertising Age estimates that 65% of all marketing expenditures in the U.S. now go to these non-media sectors”.

There is money for advertising and advertisers want to invest wisely, efficiently and effectively with their money. Newspapers are still trying to tap into the pool. According to, only about three dozen newspapers have moved to some kind of paid content on their websites. Of those, only 1% of users opted to pay. At the moment, the only news producers successfully charging for most of their online content are those selling financial information to elite audiences the Financial Times is one, the Wall Street Journal  is another, Bloomberg  is a third.

The estimate prints newspaper ad revenue roughly $22.8 billion USD, with roughly $3 billion USD more on online. For the first time, more money was spent on online advertising than on print newspaper advertising. Online advertising overall grew to $25.8 billion USD in 2010. With 40% of all online ad spending being local. According to, even Google, the king of search, sees displays as “our next big business”.

Mobile Devices
Mobile Devices

The really fascinating part for me of the report is that people are spending more time with news than ever before. So there is a demand for news and news content but not from the traditional source: newspapers. 41% of Americans cited the internet as the place where they got “most of their news about national and international issues”. More interesting is that 47% of Americans now say that they get some kind of local news on mobile devices such as cellphones or other wireless devices (such as iPads).

So that I have shown you the history, number and figures of why the newspaper is the biggest loser, now I am going explain the so what of it all…

The report talks in-depth about the different areas of media which include cable TV, audio, newspapers, network TV and local TV. An interesting highlight in the audio moving forward is a good deal of ration listening occurs in cars.  With 93% of Americans listened to AM/FM radio at some point during the week. Pandora also signed a deal with Pioneer that would put its online radio services in at least six other car manufactures by the end of 2011. When considering that auto advertising jumped 77% in local television, 22% in local radio and 17% in magazines. This shows how we have are increasing becoming mobile. Individuals have the option of hearing the radio in a variety of format. Media is collaborating with other industries such as car manufactures to meet the consumers need.

But newspaper got my attention the most. I remember when I was going up my dad would purchase the morning paper. He would drop me and my brother to school and head to work. In the evening, he and I would sit and read the paper on current events both local and international. Not forgetting the most important section, comics. That was the best part. We did this for more than eighteen years of my life. In terms of providing news, I was taught from a young age of the importance and value that comes out of reading the newspaper. Knowledge is power and one of the ways I can gain it is through reading.

Record Player

I am slowly realizing that my daughter may not remember or know what it is like to hold and read a newspaper. I will be explaining to her about newspapers in the story form of “back in the days, we…”, like the ones I hear from my parents about their record collection and purchasing the record player.



As we move forward, it saddens me and makes me nostalgic for the good old days. But the internet is here and here to stay. I am one that still enjoys reading a paperback book and the feel of flipping the pages. I also enjoy reading a hard copy of a newspaper. But I know that I will soon purchase a device like the Kindle as I rarely visit the library to check out a book or purchase one.  I read the news more on my cellphone that going out a purchasing a paper.  The challenge now becomes are you willing to adapt and how are you going to adapt?


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