Is print broken?

by Jason Preston on July 20, 2009

I often hear newspeople lamenting the exodus of print news subscribers, and I wonder if that would really solve any problems.

Advertising opportunities have blossomed over the past five years, to the point where companies are no longer forced to place expensive ads in print publications to get the attention of any given community.

There are several ways to increase print circulation, and probably a dramatic increase. You could advertise more. You could offer subscriptions for $1/month. You could provide new subscribers with a tea kettle. You could add new subscription benefits; offer subscribers one free DVD every month, hand selected by your movie critic. Turn one of his columns into a movie-watching club.

The question is: does higher print circulation mean profitability? Because if it does, then why not shoot for it?


1 Curt M. 07.20.09 at 10:21 pm

Higher print circulation only means profitability if it is followed by advertising. If everyone stopped looking at web sites and went back to print (yeah, right) then advertisers would follow.

But, if you manage to increase your circulation by a few percentage points, will advertisers come back? Not likely. And that’s the real nub of all of this: advertising dollars.

2 Jason Preston 07.21.09 at 7:08 pm

I think you’re right that print circulation is not directly tied to profitability – it’s ad revenue. But I’m not sure that a paper can’t pull enough ad revenue from a large circulation to make money. How’s that for a double negative 😉

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