Are you holding an endagered species?

In Lesson 2, we discussed which traditional marketing elements may become obsolete within the next 50 years. I suggested print yellow pages. Others suggested traditional print newspapers and print forms of direct marketing…print, print, print everything.

According to a majority of our discussion postings this week, most forms of traditional marketing elements will someday be obsolete. Really? In 50 years, will younger generations really be making fun of us for once reading a print newspaper and receiving a catalog offer in the mail? This is a scary thought…or is it? On the upside, we will be living much more green…on the downside, wouldn’t you miss picking up a good old-fashioned newspaper at times? I certainly would.

For decades, editors have looked to the future and wondered if newspapers have a place in it. “Are you now holding an endangered species in your hands?” asked David Shaw, the late media reporter for the Los Angeles Times (Leubsdore).

Shaw asked this question in a 1976 article about the newspaper industry. Impressive foresight at the time, right?

The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), said that the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) noted in its most recent annual report that the state of the newspaper industry is getting worse (Leubsdore).

Citing problems from the lack of readership among younger readers to shrinking profit margins, it suggested that high debt and declining print advertising revenue might soon force some papers to seek “a more radical solution” – even “pulling the plug on print.”

But editors from large and small newspapers across the country contacted for the article said they did not expect print to perish any time soon (Leubsdore).

Still, all agreed that print editions must change and adapt to a new business environment as media companies move toward providing information to readers across a variety of platforms, from newspapers to Web sites to news feeds.

“Absolutely, I think the print newspaper is going to survive,” said Hollis Towns, executive editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

“It may look different. I think it may take a different form. I think it may be more of a niche publication — appealing to older readers, baby boomers, maybe — but newspapers have been around a long time” and have overcome past challenges, he said, explaining why newspapers will survive.

Most of the editors interviewed said the physical shrinking of print editions is likely to continue as a result of falling advertising revenue. Print ad money was down 7 percent across the industry in 2007, according to the PEJ report (Leubsdore).

Of course there is always the thought that some baby boomers and the older generations will always be avid readers of print newspapers. But, what is going to happen when Generation Y is the older generation? Generation Y is quite accustomed to reading both local and national news coverage online. And generations following Generation Y are growing up with technology…will they know anything other than online newspapers?

No more print newspapers? I sure hope not.


Leubsdore, Ben. “Can Print Newspapers Survive?” 15 Apr 2008. American Society of Newspaper Editors. View the entire article here

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