Where newspapers sit in the bigger picture

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While the numbers will be somewhat different in New Zealand, the message is clear. Just three years after the first modern tablets went on sale, they are almost as popular as printed newspapers.

Newspapers still make plenty of money. I suspect that for every dollar spent on advertising to New Zealand tablet users at least ten times that amount is spent on newspaper ads.

 

News media: Everything in decline but digital

A pessimistic view of America’s news media shows declining revenues leading to repeated cost-cutting has hurt readership and audience loyalty. Is anyone surprised by this?

New Zealand is a little behind the US on the trends shown in the story, but we’re catching up fast. Do you think the informal media, sites like mine but also those like Kiwiblog, Whaleoil and Scoop are filling the gap?

State Of The News Media: Everything In Decline But Digital.

 

Subscriptions, not paywalls

Karen Fratti thinks publishers need to stop using the word ‘paywall’ to describe ways online sites charge readers. She prefers we talk about subscriptions.

Fratti writes:

 let’s stop talking about putting up walls to keep people out. The paywall has only led to griping from consumers who’ve reached their monthly article limit, and unique ways to get around them. We’re wordsmiths, we know words matter, and ‘paywall’ is another relic of the old media-new media debate. Knock it off.

I agree with Fratti on this, rightly or wrongly paywall makes me think of the watch towers and armed guard that patrolled central Berlin during the Cold War. The paywall is the new media’s equivalent of Cold War thinking.

Can’t We All Just Subscribe? Why ‘Paywalls’ Won’t Get Us Anywhere – 10,000 Words.

Once were newspaper readers

After hearing Newsweek lost 51% of its print circulation in the space of just five years London-based digital media blogger Martin Belam looked at UK newspaper performance. He found the British market declined 27% over the same period.

How do New Zealand newspapers compare?

I went to the Audio Bureau of Circulation and found comparable numbers for the three large daily metro papers and the two main Sunday papers. This is not a direct comparison, The Herald on Sunday was just getting started in 2007 and that had a big impact on its direct rival The Sunday Star-Times.

During the five-year period the five big New Zealand papers collectively shed 16% of their readers.

The biggest loser was the Sunday Star Times down 28%, while the Herald on Sunday increased its circulation by 11%. The Dominion-Post is down 19% while the New Zealand Herald and the Christchurch Press are down just 15%.

Among these titles Fairfax newspapers lost ground to APN titles.

So, for now at least, New Zealand’s newspapers are holding up relatively well.

Trialing the new NZ Herald print edition

You can’t blame the NZ Herald for trying. Over the last few weeks we’ve had a free trial subscription to the paper’s print edition. Each morning a copy arrives in our letter box before breakfast.

As the paper’s headline writers might say: the Herald is a blast from the past.

For most of my life I’ve had a daily newspaper – for most of my adult life I’ve worked on daily newspapers, that’s another story.

We got out of the daily paper habit after moving back to Auckland. One reason is we get our news online. Another reason is the NZ Herald is, well, not a great paper. Not awful, just not great.

In Australia we had the Sydney Morning Herald and either The Australian or The Financial Review. In Wellington we had the pre-merger Dominion. In London it was The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. All of them packed with good reading material.

My free trial subscription to the print edition of the NZ Herald ends today. I won’t renew.

There are good journalists working for the NZ Herald. But not enough interesting, readable material to make it worth paying for.

We found we like the weekday paper more than the weekend editions. Whatever the Herald says, the paper has moved downmarket since moving to a tabloid format (for some reason the Herald is keen to describe its size as ‘compact’ and not tabloid). There’s too much celebrity nonsense, a lot of silly filler material and not enough serious news. Sadly there’s little intelligent comment.

I can read the world’s best papers, the ones I named above, plus the New York Times online each day. Better still I can get the best stuff from the NZ Herald free on my iPad.

Would I pay for an iPad subscription? That depends on the price. Anything more than $100 a year would be too much.