Posted by Chelsea Rink
It isn’t news anymore that publications around the globe are struggling to keep up their readership. It’s not news that the journalism industry is undergoing some vast changes. However, there have been a handful of recently significant occurrences within the world of news output worth noting – specifically regarding the switch to digital-first publications.
Most recently, Newsweek announced its decision to switch to a subscription-based digital publication. According to Newspaper Death Watch, Paul Gillin’s blog documenting the changes to and decline of readership in newspaper publication, Newsweek’s switch did not necessarily come as a surprise. With Newsweek gone from street vendor stands following competitor US News & World Report – which exited the print publication scene two years ago – now only Time magazine continues to publish its print edition. But how long will this last?
AdWeek believes it won’t last long. Based on previous switches to digital-first strategies – exemplified by the Journal Register, Co.’s bankruptcy in early September after its switch to digital-first media – this medium has yet to create a successful model. Unless Newsweek can accumulate thousands of subscribers with their new online edition, AdWeek suggests they could quietly fold.
While a successful model for digital-first technology has not necessarily come into existence, there is something to this developing medium. It’s cheaper and it provides more material and freedom to the reader. And the importance of digital technology – particular cellular technology – is pushing newspapers towards web publications faster and faster. Many college newspapers have begun to experiment with digital publications. Even at the high school level, digital publications are gaining importance. Currently, Johnston High School is looking into creating a news website and in turn adjusting their monthly newspaper to include less news and more features. They have talked about the possibility of eventually eliminating their paper edition altogether.
But here’s a surprise: newspaper revenue is predicted to increase in 2013 – the first time for anything but decline in revenue since 2006. While Borrell Associates say it will only go up by .5%, any increase comes as good news. Maybe the newspaper industry isn’t on the outs after all.
Personally, I believe publications are wise to keep their print editions running as well as to invest in online editions. At this point, who knows where the industry is headed? The best anyone can do is be knowledgeable in both print and online technologies so that if readers do tend to prefer one medium over the other, and if the future does choose for us one medium over the other, we are well-versed in both.
Should news companies make the switch to digital-first media? Is it worth it to keep the print publications? Should high schools and colleges consider making the switch?