First, the good news. A new Scarborough study finds that most Americans still read newspapers in some format. It found that 74% of American adults either read a print newspaper or visit a newspaper Web site at least once a week. That’s pretty good reach, which is nice, but it might not really matter. If advertisers don’t think that’s good enough – or if newspaper shareholders continue to remain unimpressed, readership doesn’t mean much at all in terms of survival.
Of course, we as an industry keep digging our own graves by prematurely declaring the death of journalism in columns and blogs every week. We really need to learn a lesson or two about message management.
Now the bad news. The people we as an industry rely on to make important business decisions (including keeping some of us employed) don’t have a clue how precarious our presence in the marketplace is without loyalty from readers.
A survey from the American Press Institute indicates a big disconnect between news executives and readers when it comes to judging the importance of the local print newspaper – and of those papers’ presence online.
One particularly appalling bit of info: 75% news execs think switching off their websites will drive people back to print newspapers instead of other websites. Readers, of course, say they’d simply go to another local news website, national news site or TV/radio. The execs seem to think this is still the boom era for newspapers and they still have a monopoly.
These people are deciding the future of my industry. God help us.