What is digital medias problem with the newspaper business?

Ben Shepherd writes: Is it just me or is there a lot of dancing on graves around the troubles of the newspaper industry globally by some digital commentators?

It’s no surprise, digital media has been canning the newspapers for the past 10+ years – forgetting in the process that many of the worlds most popular and respected websites are newspaper ones. And don’t get me started on the phrase ‘Heritage Media’

It’s always confused me that many digital sell jobs are more about shitcanning traditional media, as opposed to selling in the unique benefits of the digital medium. It’s like selling a Falcon to someone purely by telling the prospective buyer how bad a Commodore is.

Personally I still like reading the paper and will read it most weekends. I think there are things newspapers do that the Internet can’t … and vice versa … but I still think in 20 years time there will be a place for newspapers.

What am I missing here? Why do some people within the digital media world seem to have such contempt for newspapers?  Is it because a load of them are wannabe print journalists that are pissed their endeavours aren’t covered by the mainstream print media?Possibly …

Liam Walsh writes: Ben if your mother was reading your expletives she would blush!

I too am a big newspaper fan, except for broadsheets being so physically big which I hate.

The problem for newspapers is much the same problem as television was for radio. Television was highly visual and the entertainment value proposition was generally higher.  Radio didn’t go away, it just got smaller.

Television has also benefited at the expense of newspapers as it is more timely and a bunch of people prefer to get their news from television.

Unfortunately for newspapers, the web is also much more timely and it’s a lot more functional. So newspapers now have a second force replacing their role.

But the really big change and why this is so painful is the impact on classifieds. Television didn’t grab all the classified revenue like digital has. This has been an enormous blow to newspaper revenue.

This revenue helped fund the journalism piece and without that revenue…… well you know the rest.

I am not sure people are beating up newspapers, there are a bunch of journalists writing about the relatively dire financial position that the sector is experiencing.

I cannot imagine a weekend without newspapers, specially since my daughter is now old enough to allow me the time to actually read them again.


10 responses to “What is digital medias problem with the newspaper business?

  1. It’s not big or clever but it’s kind of inevitable. All media can each other to an extent. Add in the additional frustration that digital reps have faced for over a decade of print advertisers splashing their URLs everywhere but still not seeing the value of actually advertising online and are you surprised?

  2. talkingdigital

    Interesting last point. Do they not see the value (ie dispute the value) or is it a case that it hasn’t been sold into them correctly? Personally I don’t think most marketers have a problem with digital channels, those who don’t use them haven’t been given a compelling enough reason to add it to the mix.

  3. Hi Ben. I totally agree. One of social media’s biggest problems is the narrow mindedness of some of its biggest champions.

    This isn’t like sport. We don’t have to take sides. We should be able to see the value of different media. The one is not going to wipe out the other.

    I did a piece on it just before Christmas: http://tinyurl.com/85533o


    Tim Burrowes – mumbrella

  4. talkingdigital

    Hey Tim – loved that article and thought it was very timely.

    I spent a lot of time thinking about the media ‘evolution’ during a pitch we did recently as I knew there was a lot of sentiment about a revolution and old ways dying a quick death and felt this was so incorrect.

    The concept of dismissing an entire comms medium is as ridiculous as someone dismissing digital … weirdly some people can’t see that.

  5. Pingback: Goodlinx - what Australia’s media and marketing bloggers are talking about today « mUmBRELLA

  6. Hmm there seems to be two main points here.

    One is: is heritage media (not online newspapers, but printed etc) going through a major downturn that it may not bounce back from? Yes. Play the numbers how you want, but an 87% average drop in newspaper shares last year, 17% average drop in ad revenue quarter on quarter is an industry in trouble. Agreed?

    The second point: are bloggers ecstatic instead of being suitably griefstricken. Yes probably. Have a look at “Australia Media: Just STOP it” and as an example, where I was deliberately misquoted by a journalist <a href=”http://laurelpapworth.com/sandra-lee-evan-maloney-dont-get-it/ here.
    Thank god the reader now has a voice back.

    Are all journalists bad? no, some blog 🙂 Are all newspapers bad? No, of course not. But double check facts and figures online, cos a lot of them have an axe to grind, and it’s mostly anti social media.

    I guess what I’m saying is: they started it. Heh. 😛

  7. Hi Ben,

    There’s also been debate about news sources i.e hearing news via Twitter, friends and family rather than newspapers.

    News breaks in all kinds of places. But analysis is something different entirely.

    For example Twitter might break a story about Lebanon but if I want comprehensive analysis then someone like Robert Fisk with 20 years + experience in the region is the man I’ll turn too.

    Plus it’s not only journos that are biased. Guess what, we most likely are too.

  8. Ben’s point is quite well made. It is clear that quite a few people with reputations and who are now on the digital side of this divide have ground their axes for some time and now are swinging. There is irony (Laurel Papworth used to work at Fairfax.) There is pathos (Eric Beecher was the creator of the bubbly, live and eat sections of first The Age and then the SMH in the late 70s and 80s – and now he castigates Fairfax for allowing them to exist.) Pity, really.

  9. Pingback: Why can’t we be friends? « talking digital: liam walsh/ben shepherd

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