Stop the Press! Is the End in Sight for Print Publications?

Print Publications

Newspapers are widely known as ‘yesterday’s news’ and in a generation of having the news at our fingertips 24/7, why would we want to read about what happened yesterday? Millennials live such a fast-paced life that they want to know something the second it happens.

Most young people have newspapers that they grew up with – their mum, dad or grandparents buying them religiously. In my house it was always The Daily Mirror, The Irish News or on Sundays; Sunday People or Sunday’s News of the World. I used to love reading The Daily Mirror, especially the two showbiz pages as I was heavily fascinated by celebrity life. I think the newspapers we grow up with influence what we read as we get older. If I was to buy a newspaper (extremely rarely) it would be The Daily Mirror. Growing up with it, I feel like I have a commitment to it.

When I studied Journalism at GSCE, I soon learnt the bias of newspapers and their allegiances. The only reason I would buy a red-top newspaper would be if there was a particular news story or supplement in it that I eagerly wanted to read, or to check the horses for the Grand National. After living in Liverpool for three years, I have a strict policy on not buying a certain tabloid that shall not be named. I don’t even think you’d be able to get your hands on a copy in this city.

I was very keen to follow a career in magazine journalism when I was younger as I loved reading them every month. My two favourite mags shut down when I was 17 and I knew then that it wasn’t a stable career path to follow. But I still wanted to work with them, so I ended up in PR. For the full story on my journalism/PR degree dilemma, check out this blog post.

Another one bites the dust

During my year on placement, I was working with magazines and journalists constantly. Quarterly, monthly and weekly magazines, daily newspapers and all digital publications. I saw the closing of so many magazines, the loss of so many jobs and a struggling industry. Some of the print magazines announced its closure to the public and employees at the one time, with no notice given to staff whatsoever.

LOOK, NME and Shortlist closed within the space of a few months. The biggest shock was Glamour going from printing monthly to bi-annually and focusing more on their digital platform. Is the print industry set to follow this trend of closures in the next few years? Which magazines will be the ones to survive?

I faithfully buy Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire every month, and always love to get my hands on the new editions at the beginning of each month. Truthfully though, I rarely find time to read them. I think this may the biggest problem with the industry. All of us are constantly busy or constantly with our heads in our phones. I never find myself thinking, I’m going to sit down and read a magazine for an hour. I just know I’d feel guilty for not doing the other 100 things that I have on my to-do list. The only time I find myself sitting down with a magazine is in the airport.

Fake News

Fake news

I don’t think Donald Trump has helped the news industry since his Presidency. A lot of us now look at newspapers and think, Can I really believe what they print? But the biggest problem with newspapers is that they’re a day behind. Yesterday’s news is old news.

I rely on Twitter for my news, checking it every morning as soon as I wake up to see what’s trending. I remember finding out about Mac Miller’s death on Twitter, and when someone text me about the Manchester bombing, the first place I looked to find out more, was Twitter. I much prefer people’s opinions on hot topics (such as Brexit) than reading a journalist’s story on the likes of BBC News.

Plus with 24-hour news channels on TV, and hourly news updates on the radio, what’s the need to buy a newspaper?

News of the World Wide Web

I think the future of news is definitely online. But I also think we may see papers start to charge for access to their online content. If you can get it for free online, why would you want to pay for it in paper form? The Guardian already have a plea on their website asking for donations to help secure the future of the publication.

The Guardian

The problem with most news sites however, especially local ones, is that the amount of advertisements that take over the screen is completely off-putting. The Echo (Liverpool’s local paper) have one of the worst sites I’ve seen and each time I click to read a news article, I click straight out of it as it’s more or less unreadable. But I guess the adverts are what keeps the company going. Another reason I don’t purchase Vogue magazine, as it’s 90% adverts.

The problem with charging to access online news is on an ethics basis. The main reason for news, is that it’s a ‘need-to-know story’ for the public. That’s the basic point of it. So Joe Public shouldn’t have to pay for information that he needs to know. Perhaps newspapers should charge for an ‘access all areas’ subscription, in order to read full-length articles?

Where’s my coverage?

Traditional PR used to be heavily focused in generating coverage in print publications – the bigger the size of coverage, the more it was worth to the client. Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) used to be widely used as a tool of measurement, but has since been seen as inaccurate.

Going forward, I think PR agencies are going to focus on a more digital-orientated campaign strategy in terms of gaining coverage. PR is slowly shifting to Influencer Marketing as news outlets are now seen as less influential and trustworthy than bloggers and social Influencers.

Online publications have a much wider circulation and reach than their print versions, but for PRs, it will be important to focus on the right publications with the right audiences.

Future of Print

Down but not out

I don’t think print publications will become extinct within the next five years, but I do think there will be a steady decline across news publications and magazines as time goes on and technology advances. I know my parents and grandparents still buy newspapers religiously, and when I’m older, who knows, I might just do the same.

My local newspaper the Lurgan Mail (alias, the Lurgan Liar) is published weekly and as it rises in price, the thinner the paper seems to become. I won’t even get started on the grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes in every issue. It’s not a surprise to see news stories finishing mid sentence, if that gives you an idea. Many a time I’ve considered sitting down with a highlighter, pointing out all the mistakes and posting it to the Editor. But then I thought I was being highly cynical and there were more important things to worry about.

Although it’s not worth the money, everyone still buys it. Small towns are probably the worst for gossip, being nosy and knowing everyone’s business and I’m not going to lie, I enjoy looking through the Courts pages to see if there are any names that I recognise. So I think local papers won’t be going anywhere for a while.

With magazines, I’m not too sure. I no longer go to the style sections of magazines to find inspiration for outfits, opting to follow fashion Influencers on social media instead. The only sections I find real interest in is the interviews, career and well-being sections. In a few years I think we’ll only be left with the big players in the industry as a lot of the weekly gossip mags are very similar to one another and will need to differentiate themselves to stay relevant.

Plus, think how many trees we’d save by going fully digital?

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