The Lingering Death of Newspapers

A Foam Pie Lands on Rupert Murdoch Despite the Wife's Intervention in the July 20th Incident

The ongoing phone-hacking scandal, with elements of slapstick comedy in the courtroom, rang the death-knell to the News of the World. It is frequently commented that this event marked the beginning of the end of newspapers; but in reality, the demise of newspapers began even before this.

How do you reconcile the fact that newspapers were introducing online versions for free on the internet and yet expect the public to pay a premium for the hard-copy version?  The business model was wrong.. a fact that Rupert Murdoch knew and tried, albeit unsuccessfully, by charging for the online version of The Times. Readers were not falling for the bait as they could access the Internet for other free online news or watch 24-hour  TV news channels. The Internet could very well also be blamed for the loss of advertising revenues, as advertisers went online with their own webpages.

Other changing trends include the loss of one of the biggest sources of revenues of newspapers – classified ads – to online portals like Ebay and Jobstreet.

Did not the newspaper owners forsee the advent of the Internet? I’m sure they did, but they were complacent. A decade or two ago, the newspaper business was a licence to print money,  where branding and economies of scale permitted them to charge a premium for copies and adverts. Today, changing lifestyles (read smartphones) and the Internet have ensured declining readership, even if free copies were distributed. This has ensured that the number of people who read newspapers has gone into a steep, possibly terminal decline. And, like a stage 4 cancer, the prognosis looks bad..


One response

  1. I feel the scenario is similar in developing countries. Its a matter of time before newspapers get obsolete, to be replaced by the new media, including social networking sites.
    Does that mean people are reading less? Not using the Internet is a form of reading too!

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