Extract from overview
A new study, which combines detailed proprietary data from individual newspapers with in-depth interviews at more than a dozen major media companies, finds that the search for a new revenue model to revive the newspaper industry is making only halting progress but that some individual newspapers are faring much better than the industry overall and may provide signs of a path forward.
In general, the shift to replace losses in print ad revenue with new digital revenue is taking longer and proving more difficult than executives want and at the current rate most newspapers continue to contract with alarming speed, according to the study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Cultural inertia is a major factor. Most papers are not putting significant effort into the new digital revenue categories that, while small now, are expected to provide most the growth in the future. To different degrees, executives predict newsrooms will continue to shrink, more papers will close and many surviving papers will deliver a print edition only a few days a week.
The study involved 38 newspapers from six different companies providing highly granular data about their digital revenue and sales efforts—creating a robust series of case studies. The data sought were developed in consultation with the partnering newspaper companies after site visits and interviews with multiple executives. After collecting the data, researchers conducted follow-up interviews to confirm whether the findings reflected broader company performance. Those findings, in turn, were shared with executives from seven more companies to test how widely they could be generalized. All data was provided on the basis that it would be anonymous.
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