I don't read newspapers or magazines anymore, at least not printed versions. I stopped subscribing 8 or 9 years ago. Editor & Publisher , America's Oldest Journal Covering The Newspaper Industry, today published "Winning Online - A Manifesto" which calls for newspapers to band together to achieve the "the migration to common platforms, and the acquisition of the ability to sell top-quality online product to our advertisers." The manifesto says " Newspapers must win online, or face a future of painful contraction."
The outlook for magazines may be even worse. Newspapers are daily updates and analysis with local content and advertising. Magazines are typically monthly, meaning out of date content, and advertising lacks a local connection, mostly national brand advertising.
In the past I subscribed to Forbes, Fortune, Inc, Red Herring, Venture, Computer World, Computer Reseller News, Byte, and Time. I also subscribed to The Wall Street Journal and my local newspaper. Now I subscribe to none of them. I get my news online.
How about you? Do you still subscribe to magazines and newspapers? I suspect that people who read blogs are a lot like me, they get their news and information online. Leave a comment and let me know your reading habits.
Network television news is also not on my radar. I can't remember the last time I sat down to watch the evening news at 6:30PM. I am usually busy at that time.
The "Winning Online Manifesto" says the trend is clear and immediate action is required to avoid painful contraction, layoffs, and closings.
Newspaper industry leaders are frogs in a pot. The water’s starting to boil, and it’s time to jump. Only 19 percent of 18-34 year olds read a daily newspaper; 44 percent of them go to a web news portal. Broadband penetration has reached 57%. The blogosphere is doubling every 5 ½ months. Search provides instant access to the world’s information. User-generated content has turned the authority model of institutional media on its head. Peer-to-peer networks, tag clouds and reputation engines are fundamentally changing how people engage with content and communications.
The San Jose Mercury News has certainly felt the impact of readers moving online. Remember this quote from my March 2006 post;
At its peak in 2000, The Mercury News had a Sunday circulation of 326,839 subscribers, according to the newspaper. Last September, the company counted 278,470 Sunday subscribers, a drop of about 15 percent. Revenue from the company's help-wanted ads fell to $18 million a year from more than $118 million, according to the paper. The newsroom was whittled to 280 people from 404, a 30 percent decline.
Magazine publishers, for the most part, have already made the transition to online. I still read many of the same magazine and newspaper titles ...but I do it online.
Tony Perkins was one of the first to see the trend and move online. Tony was founder and CEO of Red Herring, a magazine devoted to IPO and technology news. The dot com bubble and stock market crash took a toll on Red Herring, and it ceased operation in February of 2003. Tony had already made the jump the previous year and started "Always On", an online "magazine" for VCs, CEOs, and technology people.
Wait a minute. Are we living in a bubble? Does the majority of society follow the same information consumption patterns? It is natural to assume that most people think and act the same way we do...but it is rarely the case.
To test my assumptions I went to the Magazine Publishers Association website to check out magazine subscription trends. The results surprised me...but after thinking about it...they make sense. Over the past 9 years the top 10 magazines have lost only 10.6% of their readers. Much less than I expected.
But then I examined the list of top 10 magazines; AARP Magazine, AARP Bulletin, Readers Digest, TV Guide, Better Homes & Gardens, National Geographic, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Lady's Home Journal, and Woman's Day. Ahh yes, I do live in a bubble. We do not reflect the demographics of the world at large. It makes perfect sense that these magazines would not lose their readership to the web.
Hmmm..then I decided to scan the top 100 magazines for the titles I used to read. Only one, Forbes was on the list...and just barely at number 100. There was not a single technology related magazine on the top 100. Again this makes perfect sense given the demographics of the target market for these magazines.
My observation is that these magazines and newspapers are living on borrowed time. As their readers die off, so will their circulation. The new generations are consuming news and information in a different way. They have time to adapt...but they better get started.
What do you think? What are your reading habits? How do they compare to your parents reading habits?