The future of local newspapers (I)

Written on November 8, 2011 by Pedro Cifuentes in News

Newspapers keep losing buyers. The stats from this September show a fall in all major Spanish media, along with a sharp decline in sales in the local press (more than 7%), and some unexpected headaches for several daily national newspapers (a stinging 9% for El Periódico or 14% for La Razón). The world out there seems tougher than ever for smaller papers, which are yet to benefit from the migration to digital business in the same measure as bigger companies. The aftermath of the next general elections may be especially harsh for many media if advertising budgets continue to be reduced and public aids shrink in response to a new economic approach. The truth is grim: many media throughout the country run serious risk of disappearing and are in desperate need of finding commercial formulae which sustain the paper business paper whilst increasing digital traffic and revenue.

How does a local newspaper survive this metamorphosis of journalism? Not an easy question to address when its own crisis (the consequences of the digital revolution and free content) is suddenly juxtaposed with another crisis, the global one, which affects us all equally and in the world of media translates foremost in a dramatic declining of the advertising pie. The Spanish press has lost about 400,000 daily copies diaries in the past decade, and advertising has fallen approximately 40% since 2007, just before this crisis began. The total revenue in the business has lowered 30% in these four years, according to most estimates.

This world just changes too quickly. Newspapers need to think faster and reinvent themselves in order to remain important axis of the public space and their local markets. Many newspapers still have strong penetration in local audiences, but are losing public appeal – especially for youngest audiences. The only key to their endurance and new flourishment is keeping their usefulness to the everyday lives of citizens. How is this achieved? The first word to think about is this one: hyperlocal.

(To be continued)


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