How Safe Is Your Favorite News Publication?

Newspaper TeaAmong several predictions from Jeffrey I. Cole, director of USC Annenberg’s Center for the Digital Future, one is especially riveting for PR professionals.

He says that in five years most newspapers will be gone — the print survivors will be the largest and the smallest publications.  

The Center’s staff, which has been studying the impact of online technology in the United States for the past decade, believes America is at a digital turning point. While there are clear benefits to abundant advanced technologies, they come at a cost.

What’s changed over the 10-year period of the study? Cole points to “extraordinary demands on our time, major concerns about privacy and vital questions about the proliferation of technology – including a range of issues that didn’t exist 10 years ago.”

Can you guess the four large survivors in Cole’s prediction? Look at digital direction No. 5 to check your accuracy.

Mobile’s moment
Other studies show similar evidence of a digital inflection point. Emarketer reported this month that adults spend more time now with mobile devices than they do with print media.

A breakdown:

  • Time spent on mobile devices jumped 30 percent from 2010.
  • Mobile usage moved past the one hour mark.
  • The increased mobile usage compares to 44 minutes for print magazines and newspapers combined in 2011.

Advertising spending doesn’t yet reflect the increasing importance of mobile but that dollar allocation is sure to change. Emarketer notes that “newspapers and magazines continue to command ad dollars far ahead of their importance in consumers’ day.”

How will a continued shift of dollars away from print to digital media affect newsrooms?

In addition to the announced sale of 16 regional publications to the Halifax Media Group of Daytona Beach, Fla., this week The New York Times reduced the size of its newsroom through voluntary buyouts. A number of prominent veteran staffers accepted the offer.  

Although developments at The New York Times are reported more heavily than at less-read journals, they are part of the trend toward shrinking newsrooms.

Tracking newsroom layoffs is the focus of the Paper Cuts website, It counts more than 3,775 layoffs in 2011, an increase of about 30 percent over 2010’s reductions.

Now it’s your turn. How does the changing newsroom impact communications? Has the decline in print media refocused your strategies to reach your organization’s key stakeholders?

With thanks to Matt Callow for the newspaper photo via Flickr.

You might also enjoy How Mobile Is Your Audience?


About creativeconsiderations

Christine Sullivan is a communications strategist with expertise in communications planning, writing and content development, and executive communications. She can be reached at
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