The press is dead, long live the press!

“It’s not a good time to be talking about press and public relations” says Heather Maitland in the opening salvo of the latest JAM(1), but then goes on to do just that. And quite rightly too.

The problem it seems is over saturation (read competition) and it has always been thus: proprietors were complaining of an over saturated market in the early eighteenth century when there were 5 newspapers, decades later when there were still only 15, and on through the 60’s (when TV was the fall guy).

However, the problem has changed. It so much the quantity of titles that is their problem but the drop in readers of traditional newspapers. In the USA the number of readers fell by 20 million(2) in 20 years.

Do we read the news less? Of course not. We consume more and more of it. It is a while since teh BBC didn’t have a news bulletin becuase there was nothing to report! It’s just we access it in different ways. The top 20 US newspaper had 13m readers in print but more than 60m online. Sounds good, but no one has yet come up with a business model to make the most of this. One issue here is that we have come to expect that stuff on the web is free (it’s not, but it feels as if it is, but that’s another blog).

Also, how news is distributed has changed – now everyone is a reporter. But the traditional papers have the edge here in that they are probably more trusted.
A fascinating subject. Get your copy of JAM to read Heather’s article and see how leading thinkers and practiioners view the future of the press.

(1)JAM – The Journal of Arts Marketing, published by The Arts Marketing Association, “The end of the newspaper” (issue 40, October 2010)

(2) capcodetoday October 2006

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