For the Record – Holding out hope for the future of print

Matthew Abrey – May 6, 2019

Print media may look to be in trouble, but not everyone is sounding the alarms.

(Pixabay)

It’s no secret that the newspaper industry is going through a bit of a rough patch.

Since the turn of the millennium, newspaper and print revenues have been steadily decreasing along with the population of newsrooms. In fact, a report from Pew Research Centre indicates that between 2006 and 2016, overall ad revenue for U.S.-based newspapers fell off a steep cliff, dropping from $49 billion to $18 billion.

Many smaller publications are ceasing print operations, or in more extreme cases, even shutting down completely. Just last year, media giant PostMedia, which owns many major publications, shuttered six community newspapers in Ontario and Alberta, and ended print production at three others, while also delivering a round of layoffs and buyouts.

“This is a period of transition,” says former newspaper reporter and editor, Kathy Michaels.

“And there’s a lot of public concern about what’s going to happen going forward, and that’s creating a lot of unrest with advertisers, and it’s a bit of a cyclone of negativity right now.”

We caught up with Kathy to discuss the current state of print media, and what direction she sees it going from here.

Michaels says she doesn’t believe, however, that print is dead.

“It’s a gathering point for the community. Whether it’ll be the same as we know it to be today remains to be seen, but I think print newspapers and print products have value.”

It should also be noted that although a mass consumer shift to online-based media may have hurt newspapers’ physical copy distribution, it has also helped some traditional print media outlets reach a larger audience.

Every week in Canada there are more than 31.5 million newspapers distributed, in both print and digital formats.

(Source: News Media Canada, 2017 / Pixabay)

It should also be noted that although a mass consumer shift to online-based media may have hurt newspapers’ physical copy distribution, it has also helped some traditional print media outlets reach a larger audience.

Newspapers such as The Guardian and The New York Times have been gaining subscribers both online and in print in recent years, and according to a 2017 Totum Research poll, 77% of Canadians in major markets read a daily newspaper each week, either in print or online.