Is Print Journalism Dead?

Is print journalism dead? I got the question overnight in email from a student working on a research paper. He’d seen this post on this blog about that. He asked me to answer these three questions.  So these are his questions with my answers.

1.) What are the factors that have led to falling sales?

Start with cost: Print media have the cost of paper and the cost of physical distribution. Online media don’t. Is the print version worth the difference to the customer? To the advertiser? For now, sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Over the long term the increased acceptance of digital media makes the cost difference more important.

Add convenience: I believe digital is inherently more convenient. My iPad, my Kindle, and my iPhone are more convenient because I have all the media in one small package. That’s also true for a lot of droid users. That’s not true for everybody, of course. Some people prefer paper. I know that. But I believe the relative convenience of digital will win over time.  That’s my opinion.

2.) How can newspapers in particular re-position themselves in the digital media market to halt the decline in circulation?

Newspapers need to be available on the major operating systems of phones and tablets.

Enhance the value for readers and advertisers. Add search and social media and comments and links to take advantage of digital in ways that printed newspapers can’t.

Do the reporting that citizen journalists and opinion-based bloggers and social media don’t. Do the investigative reporting. Cover the town hall and local issues. Stay objective, reliably, and trustworthy.

3.) Is the trend terminal and, if so, does it matter?

No, of course it’s not terminal. Nothing is ever absolute. Some newspapers and magazines will survive for a long time. The long tail will be there. But over time the survivors will be fewer, more narrow, and less important.

So that’s my opinion.

And I don’t consider myself an authority on this. I’m not a researcher. Look at the thorough research being done by the major Journalism grad schools (Columbia, University of Missouri, University of Oregon, Stanford, many others) for a lot more info.

But I do have an opinion; and it is informed by nine years as a mainstream Journalist, 30 years as a magazine columnist on occasion, and seven years as a professional blogger. And I’ve got a master’s degree in Journalism. And I enjoy sharing opinions. For more on that, check out the Journalism category on this blog.


  • Jim says:

    I dont think it is dead. I think it is going to shrink significantly, I would recommend them to read who moved my cheese book.

  • Ignite Visibility says:

    I have to stay that print is very close to dead, if not totally dead. Journalists need to actually be online marketing experts now a days. This allows them to write content that is successful and promote it correctly. Print is just bad for the environment and a totally different animal than online. The sooner journalist realize this the better off their career will be.

  • Lola says:

    Not dead, but dying. We’ve become accustomed to the immediacy and the interactive aspects of online media. It certainly has its merits- most notably, the ability to share perspectives and opinions from all over the world, and the immediacy of information. That being said, the ritual of physically holding a book, newspaper or magazine is ritualistic for many and will probably never be 100% gone.
    Also – because of the push to be the first one to break a story online can lead to poorly researched, and flat writing.
    I think all in all, in depth feature articles work best in print, whereas news clips are more relevant to the digital world.
    That being said, I think that no publication will ever survive at present or in the future without having a good balance of digital integration where readers can share insights, perspectives and opinions.

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