Since online user generated content is picking up, newspapers get continuously slashed for their inability to adjust to modern times and the demise of the old media was predicted. Now it turns out that the old-fashioned publishers are still going strong.
Newspapers were late to the game because, for years, they had near monopolies and fat profit margins, and therefore weren’t pressured to innovate. In 2005, all newspapers were still earning most of their profits from the print versions, and young people turned away from papers, leaving newspapers with a declining reader base, and declining revenue potential.
Last week The Newspaper Association of America announced that a record number of readers visited U.S. online newspaper sites last year. The number of unique visitors to newspaper websites rose more than 6 percent to a monthly average of 60 million. Monthly visits climbed 9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago.
So, all is going well then and newspapers are finally becoming innovative news sources online. Indeed newspapers are making steps in the right direction. They are embracing RSS feeds and video, ask their best journalists for their online versions, make more content available for free and there is even some collaboration. I can’t help noticing however, that this news comes together with reports that the biggest growth group online today are the baby boomers… coincidence?
Maybe not. The Wall Street Journal recently announced that they will not go along with the trend and hold on to their subscription model. The reason: it pays them good money. Not only in subscription fees but particularly in advertising revenues. Their well-defined paying user group of affluent 50-year old male decision makers turns out to be an attractive group for advertisers. Great model.
Unfortunately, as a new generation of decision makers is approaching, it might not last.