A newspaper is not a dinosaur – extinction is out of the question


40 years down the track apparently this will be the norm – Children at a museum. Standing in awe . Amazed at the sight of the ancient relic in the glass cabinet. Amazed at what was known in ‘the olden days’ as the ‘newspaper’.

 If you caught The 7.30 Report on the ABC on Tuesday night (26 May) you will know what I’m talking about.

Thea Dikeos reported on the supposed ‘uncertain future for newspapers’. The newspaper appears to be the most recent addition to the endangered species list – and according to the recent natter on the topic, this species is quickly heading down the path to extinction.

It seems this downslide may have already begun… Across the world, publications are falling one by one into the financial crisis pit of doom. ABC reported that the publisher of the ‘Los Angeles Times’ and the ‘Chicago Tribune’ filed for bankruptcy. In the past year in the UK, more than 50 local and regional newspapers have closed up shop.

An article posted on Crikey raised the question – but why should this concern us? Well, if history is to prove correct, if it’s plaguing the US and the UK, we can rest assured that eventually the same plague will hit our home shores as well. 

And perhaps this plague is closer than we think. According to The 7.30 Report, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have barely made a profit over the past few days. Still not convinced – have a look at  Triple J’s TV Hack – ‘Death of the Newspaper’.

It appears that young people no longer read newspapers. The overall sales of newspapers is declining. People are now using blogs and twitter as their daily news sources.

Ok so we are concerned. What can we do?

Brand dna blogger, Stan Lee came up with the suggestion that perhaps all newspapers should be free which would give the publisher enormous reach and readership, “not for its news – for its advertising”. Agreed – this would attract the advertising dollars breathing new life into diminishing bank accounts. However the inherent risk of this turning newspapers into one oversized advertorial makes me shudder.   

Another suggestion from Rupert Murdoch, who was quoted on The 7.30 Report, is that with newspaper profits falling, the age of free online newspaper content is now over. Paid online subscriptions, in his opinion, is apparently the way to go. I personally would not pay to read the news on smh.com.au.

Personally I can’t imagine a world without print journalism. Therefore I don’t believe the Australian government should ever let the predicated death of the newspaper become a reality. I agree with online publisher, Erin Beecher that if a newspaper was headed for bankruptcy, the federal, state or local government should have a responsibility to step in with funding.

Perhaps this view simply comes from the fact that I like sipping my coffee on a Sunday morning with a paper spread across the kitchen table. Perhaps it’s the industry I work in. Working in public relations, my day just wouldn’t be the same without a pile of newspapers sitting on the corner of my desk. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but a society without newspapers seems, well, just wrong.

Where do you see newspapers in the future? It would be great to hear your thoughts on this one.


– Gemma Crowley


8 Responses to A newspaper is not a dinosaur – extinction is out of the question

  1. Anthony Watts says:

    After being in newspapers for more than 20 years I have seen the decline in news content and the increase in advertising content, leading me to think the forecast is not that far wrong, unfortunately. Only this year we launched an online version of our newspaper which allows readers to have the stories read to them (mainly targeting sight impaired or blind, however being utilised moreso by those who couldn’t be bothered reading themselves) and direct links from advertisers to their websites. In our “must doing it now and do ten things at the same time” society I guess people like the luxury of having something read to them, whilst preparing dinner, feeding the dog and doing the washing. I don’t think it’s just limited to newspapers, either – book reading does not appear as popular anymore.
    Our online version was set up to be complementary to our “paper” version, however, all our own advertising specifically targets the online version: “Read our online version.” “Don’t miss this week’s online version.”
    As far as youth and newspapers is concerned, we have recently lost advertising from two major entertainment venues because they believe their clients (demographic 18-26) do not read newspapers and therefore it was a waste of their money to advertise their bands.
    Without doing a major survey, which only generates limited response at the best of times, I guess we just have to believe what they tell us.

  2. I sadly agree that newspapers are in decline but I’m hopeful they’ll still have a place in my world for many years to come.

    It does seem that you need to be over 30 (unless you work in PR or journalism) to be a regular reader of the newspaper. I was at the hairdresser last month and another one of the clients (aged about 50) was reading the SMH which as many of you would know is a broadsheet paper. One of the young (probably about 20 years old) hairdressers exclaimed rather loudly ‘isn’t it big’. It was as if she’d never seen a copy of the SMH which I generically call ‘the paper’ in her life. It made me realise that a lot of young people have never read a newspaper and are unlikely to take up the habit.

    I for one will continue to subscribe to SMH for as long as it continues to be published so no sleep-ins for my newsagent in the near future at least.

  3. Matthew Darvas says:

    I religiously log onto to BBC World News everyday for my news needs. I also religiously walk straight past the newspaper stand on my way to the train/uni/work. Personally I don’t see why I would struggle with a big broadsheet paper (I’m not going to read the tele) all over the shop when I can can log in, click on and bring up the news I want to see???

    Have increasingly been using my new mobile to access domestic news sources. Again fast, compact and handy.

    Plus unlike what Murdoch wants, it’s all free!!!! Surely it must also be better for the environment??? I think the papers days are numbered…

  4. Eva Dorn says:

    I am sad to admit it, but I guess new online formats will be the future…

    New York Times is lately promoting its TimesReader2.0, an e-paper based on Adobe Air. Through the Air tecnic the paper automaticly updates itself and the content is more comfortable to read. Such a reader combined to a lighwight and handy player seems like the future of newspapers to me. People no longer seem to be interested in long an informative articles. They want the latest news or headlines as fast as posible and whereever they are.

  5. According to the article in The Australian today, ‘Future of our newspapers is bright’ quotes John Hartigan, chairman of News Limited, saying that Australian journalism is holding up well compared to our counterparts in Britain and the USA!

    Perhaps extinction is out of the question for the Australian newspaper!


  6. […] year ago on the DRPR blog, we debated the future of newspapers which seemed to be doomed to extinction, making place for […]

  7. backlink says:

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  8. […] year ago on the DRPR blog, we debated the future of newspapers which seemed to be doomed to extinction, making place for […]

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