Newspaper was the first legacy medium to take a serious hit from digital alternatives. Revenue peaked in 2006 and has dropped virtually every year since.
Take a look below at the last 10 years of newspaper’s revenue and circulation performance. (Click on it to enlarge.)
Pretty ugly, isn’t it?
It wasn’t that long ago that newspaper revenue was nearly three times that of radio. Today it’s just slightly ahead and at the rate its falling, newspaper revenue may fall behind radio in the not too distant future.
Given newspaper’s miserable failure to remake itself as a digital medium, why is it that radio is following a similar path as it evolves into a digital medium?
Newspaper companies placed a higher priority on protecting profits than defending revenue.
They bastardized content firing newsroom people, replacing local stories with syndicate content, eliminating pages and even whole sections.
Some papers are not even printing seven days of the week.
At a time when newspapers needed to reinvent themselves, they made little more than token efforts to better compete with digital alternatives.
Circulation and revenue declines moving in lock-step confirm the folly of their efforts.
Yes, newspapers are selling more digital space, but while giving up print dollars, they are recouping digital dimes.
Take a look at the graph below. It shows newspaper newsroom employment from a yearly survey conducted by the American Society of News Editors.
Newspapers started cutting staff going into the recession, but have since continued cutting staff. Today newsrooms are 40% smaller than just eight years ago.
Do those numbers give you the impression that newspapers are developing new digital products to compliment their print editions and effectively compete against pure-play digital products?
Gutting content to protect profits hasn’t worked.
Gutting content may be looked back upon as newspaper’s fatal mistake from which it never recovered.
Radio is following a similar course.
Cut expenses to protect profits. Bastardize the on-air product and make token digital efforts that are neither innovative nor effective.
We know how it turned out for newspaper.
Should we really wonder how it will turn out for radio?