Newspapers in the Digital Era

A recent study, from the PEW Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, has uncovered some interesting data regarding the newspaper industry. This study involved not only review of proprietary data from individual newspapers, but also in-depth interviews with over a dozen major media companies. Overall, the study found that only slow progress is being made as newspapers begin to move into the digital future – though there are some success stories worth review.

Currently, newspapers continue to only put a small effort into new digital revenues and tactics and trends show that newspapers are continuing to contract – resulting in staff layoffs, a small reduction in the number of U.S. newspapers, and possibly a reduction in print editions – from daily editions to select days a week.

In all, 38 newspapers from six different companies were involved in the study. On average it was found that newspapers are losing print advertising dollars at seven times the rate that they are growing digital ad revenue in the last full fiscal year. Some of these newspapers are even seeing their digital revenue fall by up to 37% in the last year. Even with major setbacks like these, there are some success stories. One newspaper, in particular, saw digital ad revenue grow by 63% and print grow 8%.

Many of the “success stories” are utilizing new strategies for growing their business including “smart” or targeted marketing based on customer’s online behavior,  advertising on mobile devices, holding events, offering consultation, or selling business products.

The data is showing that the newspapers that are showing some positive numbers are taking some huge risks. One media executive speculated that when undertaking a major overhaul for the digital era, that the newspaper has a 90% risk of failure and only a 10% chance of success. Even with such a risk, it is likely inevitable that newspapers will have to adapt to the digital environment – or fail. The research shows that though newspapers have increased subscription costs, their overall revenue is still down by more than 40% in the last decade. Scary numbers, indeed! To read more about this study, visit