Stop the presses! Is print media dead?

Fleet Street, the historic home of UK print media. Image: Josep Renalias

Fleet Street, the historic home of UK print media. Image: Josep Renalias

Print media is dead, isn’t it? That is a frequently asked question with people demanding more news and content faster than print can ever achieve. Online newspapers like the Huffington Post, social media and 24 hour rolling news has meant that the way in which we consume news has changed significantly. Few of us pick up the humble broadsheet or tabloid in print form as modern technology has made it easier for consumption of news. Earlier this month, The Independent newspaper announced that it was to cease print production and move online. Writing for Nouse, I was saddened to hear this as it seems the statement that print media may be dying was true.

However, a few days later the Trinity Mirror group, owners of the Daily Mirror, announced that they were to launch a new national newspaper, The New Day. Initially I was shocked by the announcement; with the Indy going online I thought that the Mirror Group were taking a bold gamble. The New Day was launched last Monday to great fanfare and an advertisement campaign that reportedly cost £5 million.

But why launch a newspaper when circulation is declining. Simply put the declining circulation is not as bad as it seems. The Sun and Daily Mail both have circulations of 1.5 million copies a day, with The Sun reaching 1.7 million.  The rest of the market ranges from between 900,000 to 400,000, while The Independent has a lowly 68,000 a day. Indeed, with figures like these it makes economical sense that The Independent moves online. However, the rest of the market is reasonably strong and historically Britain compared to much of continental Europe has often favoured print media.  According to the European Journalism Centre 11 national newspapers have a circulation of about 75m every week.

Although it’s true that print circulation has declined from what it was in the past, new technology has been embraced by our national newspapers.  Many are pushing online versions of the paper to keep readers abreast of development much faster than traditional print, while still maintaining print versions. The Times has a circulation in print of 404,155, but has over 400,000 members online  taking the readership to over 800,000.  This is a similar situation for many other papers, particularly in the ‘quality’ section of the market – The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Guardian. The Daily Mail is the UK’s most visited newspaper site, with its infamous sidebar of shame and The Guardian ranking as the 18th most visited site in the UK.

Only time will tell whether print media can survive in the long term.  At the moment, print editions benefit from online subscription as it allows print to continue. Despite The Independent leaving newsagent’s shelves, the paper will move online, with a monthly subscription service app. However, as often is the case in business, as one door closes, another opens in the form of The New Day. I wish them luck in and hope that our great national newspapers continue in print as well as online.

One comment

  1. It’s articles like this that are putting us media students out of jobs. Could you kindly focus on other topics, thanks.

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