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Papers lose $7 in print ad revenue for every $1 digital gain

The Pew Research Center has issued a report that isn’t so surprising, but offers more concrete numbers to throw around the bar when complaining about the demise of the industry. The report states that on average for every $1 gained in digital advertising revenue, they lose $7 in print ad revenue.

In general, the shift to replace losses in print ad revenue with new digital revenue is taking longer and proving more difficult than executives want and at the current rate most newspapers continue to contract with alarming speed, according to the study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Cultural inertia is a major factor. Most papers are not putting significant effort into the new digital revenue categories that, while small now, are expected to provide most the growth in the future. To different degrees, executives predict newsrooms will continue to shrink, more papers will close and many surviving papers will deliver a print edition only a few days a week.

Community Comments

#1 Stephen Beals
March/7/2012
@ 12:02 pm

It will be interesting to see what happens when Gannette starts charging for online access to 80 newspapers later this year. Or maybe it will just be sad. I’m hoping for interesting.

#2 b.j. dewey
March/8/2012
@ 9:41 pm

I took some heart that some newspapers are “faring much better than the industry overall and may provide signs of a path forward.” And I was surprised that “Most papers are not putting significant effort into the new digital revenue categories that, while small now, are expected to provide most of the growth in the future.” I don’t yet see a demise of the entire industry, but I’m not sure yet what I see.

#3 Texas Raider
March/12/2012
@ 8:52 pm

Admittedly, I know nothing about this industry but isn’t it possible that once most all newspapers are gone (and as a result their competition for online sources), won’t many online sources start looking at subscription models? If they are the only game in town, the bigger major sites might start charging for total access and if so, won’t we be thinking “I could have just paid for a local newspaper and been done with it.” But by that time, they’ll probably be gone for good.

I just wish there a national paper that would take the risk and publish a hiqh quality, good looking paper with abundant features (read: tons of color comics amongst other things). I don’t think anybody has proved newpapers are pointless or incapable of producing profit…they just seem to be as they are now. Before dumping them and replacing them with online only, why not try to rejuvinate and revitalize what’s already there?

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