20170922

NEWSPRINT

Cordt Schnibben of 'Spiegel Online' reported in 2003, as translated from German to English by Christopher Sultan: "In the last decade, the daily newspaper has largely lost its role in shaping public opinion. Which piece of news penetrates into the public consciousness, and which news is considered scandalous or worth debating, is now the consequence of a rapid back-and-forth between magazines, websites and TV, as well as social media like Facebook (and Twitter) and aggregators like Google.

"Daily newspapers are threatened economically by the Internet, but journalistically even more so. The Internet is creating a kind of counter-public to the classic media by plundering them and depriving them of control and their aura (and) turns readers into participants in the conversation, editors, inspirers and nuisances, schemers and agitators.

"Many readers have turned to the Internet as their most important source of information ... which is why 46 of 332 German newspapers are now (in 2003) charging money for certain articles on their websites (Bild, Hamburger Abendblatt, L├╝becker Nachrichten), or for all articles (Die Welt, Badische Zeitung, Saarbr├╝cker Zeitung). In the United States, 450 of 1,380 newspapers now (in 2003) plan to offset the revenue losses of daily newspapers with paid content."

Mathew Ingram of 'Fortune' reported in 2016, "As tempting as it is to re-imagine history, however, it's a virtual certainty that even if most newspapers had focused more of their resources on print and less on digital, the outcome would have been more or less identical. In other words, print newspapers had already been in gradual decline for a decade before the consumer Internet came along, a decline driven primarily by radio and television news."

In 1994, there were as many as 10 prime-time newsmagazines on the air. "Apart from public service and our journalistic merits, the newsmagazines are of real benefit financially to the networks," one newsmagazine producer told the 'Los Angeles Times'. By 1998, programs such as 'Dateline NBC' expanded to as many as 5 nights a week. Warren Littlefield told advertisers at the time, "The value to us (of having several nights of 'Dateline' on the chessboard) is that it gives us flexibility to move strategically to dominance in prime time." In all, newsmagazines occupied 11 hours of the 24 hours in prime time that season on the 3 networks.

As understood, 'Dateline NBC' was also the first program to produce 5 hours of prime-time network programming a week. "I've heard it many times," Neal Shapiro stated. "'News keeps the lights on.'" It was reported newsmagazines cost less to produce than an hour of comedy or drama. It also had fresh programming every week, even through the summer and improved the network's performance in time slots the network wasn't likely to win.

"I know that 'Dateline' is an important franchise to NBC," Neal Shapiro added. "But the cold, hard reality is that successful comedies and dramas make more money than newsmagazines. Newsmagazines start out as counter-programming and, if they do well, they can become hits of their own, like 'PrimeTime Live,' '20/20' and our own newsmagazine.

"We're on 5 nights a week now (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday), so as things keep happening, there are stories you want to jump on. We probably do more crashes than any other news show." The 'Los Angeles Times' explained the "crashes" was "the TV news insider's term for the drop-everything-and-get-it-done-preferably-yesterday story."

Bryce Nelson, who was the professor of journalism at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication told the 'Los Angeles Times' in 1998, "I cannot imagine that 'Dateline' will have enormous ratings week after week. Even when '60 Minutes' was on alone, it was hard to get 3 good magazine stories a week. If you try to do this every night, it's going to be very hard to get stories with content."

Mathew Ingram of 'Fortune' continued, "All the Internet did was accelerate and enlarge that drop, by siphoning away the attention of newspaper readers, and then the advertising revenue they depended on for their livelihood. In a little over a decade, the newspaper industry had lost $45 billion in ad revenue. It's no coincidence that during that same period, Google gained about $40 billion in ad revenue, thanks to the development of 'programmatic' ad markets, where ads are bought and sold by algorithms.

"Craigslist and other digital providers also siphoned off real estate and classified revenue. The result of this transition was intense pressure on advertising prices, something that has kept online ad rates orders of magnitude lower than print advertising. Even if newspapers had ignored the web entirely and focused on making their print editions as robust and profitable as possible, both of those trends would still have taken place, and print newspapers would have wound up in the same predicament they are now. The media world has changed. It's just the way evolution works. Ask the music industry."

'Acta Diurna' (Daily Events) was the first newspaper published around 59BC, during the pre-Julian Roman calendar times in Rome. In 1994, 'The New York Times' became the first newspaper to spearhead the digital revolution. John Bonazzo of 'The Observer' reported in 2016, "In 1994, 'The New York Times' had partnered with America Online to launch @times, a digest of the paper's and culture stories. The interface was very basic. So the next year, the paper decided to go all in on digital. The beta version of nytimes.com launched in October 1995, and on January 22, 1996 the website went live to the world."

Peter T. Lewis informed readers at the time, "'The New York Times' begins publishing daily on the World Wide Web today, offering readers around the world immediate access to most of the daily newspaper's contents ... With its entry on the Web, 'The Times' is hoping to become a primary information provider in the computer age and to cut costs for newsprint, delivery and labor. Companies that have established Web-based information sites include television networks, computer companies, on-line information services, magazines and even individuals creating electronic newspapers of their own."

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of 'The Times' enthused at the time of its launch, "Our site is designed to take full advantage of the evolving capabilities offered by the Internet. We see our role on the Web as being similar to our traditional print role - to act as a thoughtful, unbiased filter and to provide our customers with information they need and can trust."

In 2011, Lord Justice Leveson held a 16-month public inquiry, understood to be the 6th since 1945, into "the culture, practices and ethics of the press" in the UK. The Leveson inquiry heard from 184 witnesses and accepted 42 written submissions at the high court in London. Rupert Murdoch told the Leveson inquiry although the internet represented an "opportunity", he also made the appeal to the government not to "over-regulate".

Rupert Murdoch maintained, "We're dealing in a very complex world with disruptive technologies, and we're suffering at the hand of those, so when it comes to regulation, I just beg for some care. A varied press guarantees democracy and we want democracy rather than autocracy. Every newspaper has had a very good run... It's coming to an end as a result of these disruptive technologies.

"I think we will have both (Internet and print news) for quite a while, certainly ten years (to 2022), some people say five (to 2017). I'd be more inclined to say 20 (to 2032), but 20 means very small circulations. I think you have a danger of regulating, putting regulations in place which will mean there will be no press in 10 years (around 2022) to regulate. The fact is, the Internet came along, slowly developed as a source of news, and now is absolutely in our space and I think it's been responsible for a lot of loss of circulation."

"Fast-forward to 2016," Dan Kennedy of 'WGBH News' made the observation, "The Internet has shifted the balance of power from publishers to advertisers, who can reach their customers far more efficiently than they could by taking a shot in the dark on expensive print ads. The result, according to the Newspaper Association of America (as reported by the Pew Research Center), is that print ad revenues have fallen from $44.9 billion in 2003 to just $16.4 billion in 2014, while digital ad revenues -$3.5 billion in 2014 - have barely budged since 2006."

As such "newspapers remain utterly reliant on their shrunken print editions for most of their revenues. Twenty years after nytimes.com staked out its home on the Web, newspapers are still the source of most of the public interest. Clay Shirky once said, 'Society doesn't need newspapers. What we need is journalism.' Journalism we need to govern ourselves in a democracy."

Brian McGrory of 'The Boston Globe' told a 'Bates' audience in February 2016, "Journalism is really about life. You can’t give up on print too quickly and you can’t embrace digital too quickly. You need to make a nuanced and sophisticated transition. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to argue that the very foundation of a strong democracy depends on this issue getting fixed. Our print readers are paying top dollar. They are our most hardcore readers, our most faithful readers. We also have to understand that the future of our industry - undoubtedly - is digital."

At one time, "Classified ads were the dirty secret of American journalism" earning around $180 million a year for the newspapers. Enough revenue to hire an "enormous staff" of 540 Globe journalists. Farhad Manjoo of slate.com offered technology followers his analysis of why the Internet of 1996 was almost unrecognizable compared with 2009, "It's 1996, and you're bored. What do you do?

"If you're one of the lucky people with an AOL account, you probably do the same thing you'd do in 2009: Go online. Crank up your modem, wait 20 seconds as you log in, and there you are - 'Welcome.' You check your mail, then spend a few minutes chatting with your AOL buddies about which of you has the funniest screen name (you win, pimpodayear94). Then you load up Internet Explorer, AOL's default Web browser. Now what?

"There's no YouTube, Digg, Huffington Post, or Gawker. There's no Google, Twitter, Facebook, or Wikipedia. A few newspapers and magazines have begun to put their articles online - you can visit 'The New York Times' or 'Time' - and there are a handful of new Web-only publications, including Feed, HotWired, Salon, Suck, Urban Desires, Word, and, launched in June, Slate. But these sites aren't very big, and they don't hold your interest for long.

"People still refer to the new medium by its full name - the World Wide Web - and although you sometimes find interesting stuff here, you're constantly struck by how little there is to do. You rarely linger on the Web; your computer takes about 30 seconds to load each page, and, hey, you're paying for the Internet by the hour. Plus, you're tying up the phone line. Ten minutes after you log in, you shut down your modem.

"You've got other things to do - after all, a new episode of 'Seinfeld' is on … We all know that the Internet has changed radically since the '90s, but there's something dizzying about going back to look at how people spent their time 13 years ago (in 1996). Sifting through old Web pages today is a bit like playing video games from the 1970s; the fun is in considering how awesome people thought they were, despite all that was missing. In 1996, just 20 million American adults had access to the Internet, about as many as subscribe to satellite radio today. The dot-com boom had already begun on Wall Street - Netscape went public in 1995 - but what's striking about the old Web is how unsure everyone seemed to be about what the new medium was for."

Erik Sass of 'Media Post' reported in June 2016, "According to the Census, total US newspaper publishing revenues including advertising and circulation fell 4.4% from $6.51 billion in the first quarter of 2015 to $6.22 billion in the first quarter of 2016. US magazine publishers saw total revenues fall from $6.66 billion to $6.36 billion, for a decline of 4.5% over the same period, again across both ads and circulation."

In its 2006 report, 'The Economist' argued, "At their best, newspapers hold governments and companies to account. They usually set the news agenda for the rest of the media. But in the rich world newspapers are now an endangered species. The business of selling words to readers and selling readers to advertisers, which has sustained their role in society, is falling apart. Of all the 'old' media, newspapers have the most to lose from the Internet.

"Circulation has been falling in America, western Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand for decades (elsewhere, sales are rising). But in the past few years the web has hastened the decline. In his book 'The Vanishing Newspaper', Philip Meyer calculates that the first quarter of 2043 will be the moment when newsprint dies in America as the last exhausted reader tosses aside the last crumpled edition. Britons aged between 15 and 24 say they spend almost 30% less time reading national newspapers once they start using the Web."

Tony Rogers of 'Thoughtco.' made the conclusion, "Contrary to expectations, many newspapers remain profitable although they no longer have the huge profit margins they did in the 1990s. Years after the digital pundits started predicting the demise of print, newspapers still take significant revenue from print advertising, but it declined from $60 billion to about $20 billion between 2010 and 2015.

"And those who claim that the future of news is online and only online ignore one critical point: Online ad revenue alone just isn’t enough to support most news companies. So online news sites will need an as-yet undiscovered business model to survive. One possibility may be paywalls, which many newspapers and news websites are increasingly using to generate much-needed revenue.

"A Pew Research Center study found that paywalls have been adopted at 450 of the country's 1,380 dailies and they seem to be effective. That study also found that the success of paywalls combined with print subscription and single-copy price increases has led to a stabilization – or, in some cases, even an increase in revenues from circulation. So papers don't have to rely as much as they once did on advertising revenue. Until someone figures out how to make online news sites profitable, newspapers aren't going anywhere."

'The Economist' continued. "The decline of newspapers will not be as harmful to society as some fear. Democracy, remember, has already survived the huge television-led decline in circulation since the 1950s. It has survived as readers have shunned papers and papers have shunned what was in stuffier times thought of as serious news. And it will surely survive the decline to come.

"Classified ads, in particular, are quickly shifting online. Rupert Murdoch, the Beaverbrook of our age, once described them as the industry's rivers of gold - but, as he said last year (in 2005), 'Sometimes rivers dry up.' In Switzerland and the Netherlands newspapers have lost half their classified advertising to the Internet. Having ignored reality for years, newspapers are at last doing something. In order to cut costs, they are already spending less on journalism.

"Many are also trying to attract younger readers by shifting the mix of their stories towards entertainment, lifestyle and subjects that may seem more relevant to people's daily lives than international affairs and politics are. They are trying to create new businesses on-and-offline. And they are investing in free daily papers, which do not use up any of their meagre editorial resources on uncovering political corruption or corporate fraud. So far, this fit of activity looks unlikely to save many of them. Even if it does, it bodes ill for the public role of the Fourth Estate."

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