Print: The Death Of A Media – The End Of An Era
Included in the steps of accepting death are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately, acceptance. Though these emotional responses were not intended for this purpose, clearly, many people are in denial about the slow, painful passing of print media. Right now, as print media is in its death throes, there is a lot of denial. There is also a lot of anger and depression, but that largely emanates from the owners and shareholders of print publications, including newspapers and magazines – at least the ones that aren't going digital. The focus of this article, however, is that print media is indeed dead, and yet, predictably, many people remain slaves to their denial of that fact. Mind you, I am not saying that printing is dead – not by a long shot.
Desktop color ink jet printers, and lightning fast laser printers attest to that fact. It is print media that has expired. If you're having trouble believing that, you're not alone – but read on… If you enjoy opening that thick, inky bulk of treated tree pulp on Sunday mornings and digging into the crossword, or catching up on business trends, or just seeing what the critics say about the movie you plan to see that afternoon, then denial is not so bad. On the other hand, if you're in business and you are lagging behind in acceptance, then you might just be unwittingly plotting the doom of your business. Contrary to what most people think, printing first appeared in China.
Xylography, as it is called, was accomplished by hand carving blocks of wood into entire pages or sections of pages. It was hundreds of years later (circa 1450), in Europe, that the famous German goldsmith Johann Gutenberg changed all that, and made printing more practical on a larger scale. Gutenberg's amazing invention dramatically changed the entire world, and those changes have evolved and endured for almost six centuries – all the while making unprecedented shifts in almost everything on the planet. The evolution of printing in the last century has been nothing short of phenomenal. If you have a desktop laser printer, you have more printing power than most printing shops did in 1950. Print media is hanging on by its proverbial fingernails to ever-shrinking subscriber and advertiser markets. Not only are these market bases shrinking, but they are shrinking at an ever-increasing rate. Newspapers, for example, peaked in 1987, but in the last couple of years their decline in readership and advertising has accelerated noticeably. Despite the growth of the US population, newspaper readership has dropped from 62.7 million in 1988 to 54.
6 million in 2004. Magazines are no better off. Hot, relatively new magazine titles, such as Wired, as well as long established newspapers like the New York Times are facing unprecedented losses on a regular basis. Even the great print media 'institutions' like TV Guide, National Geographic, and House & Garden are seeing their print editions in rapid decline. Overall, magazine subscriptions have fallen back to 1994 levels. Here are some other alarming statistics demonstrating these facts: ***Loss of pages of advertising between 2004 and 2005 (shown in percentages) TV Guide -20% Country Home -12.7% Fortune -10.2 Fitness -16.1 House & Garden -11.4 National Geographic -17.
4% Newsweek -14.8% TIME -17.5% Wired -12.2% Performance of some primary Media Stocks for 2005 expressed in percentages: Belo (BLC) -11.6% Fisher (FSCI) -3.1% Gannett (GCI) -24.2% Gray (GTN) -38% Hearst-Argyle (HTV) -6.9% Media General (MEG) -17% Meredith (MDP) -2.4% New York Times (NYT) -30.7% Tribune (TRB) -24.
8% Young (YBTVA) -80.2% ***Source: Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) as of October 6th, 2005 Amazingly, a few magazines and newspapers are showing an increase in advertising sales revenues, even though they have fewer subscribers and are selling fewer ad pages. How? By increasing pricing for the same amount of space – that is going to fewer readers. Why would anyone pay more to get less? Surely they are uninformed, and/or in denial. Business owners and decision-makers tend to be somewhat older, and as such are firm in the 'old ways,' one of which is to advertise in print media. Print media is definitely still something that needs to be done, but only at a comparably low level – and all print media ads should direct consumers to websites. Websites can employ endless space, music, voice, sound effects, interactivity, and animation to display and sell vast numbers of products and services to endless streams of new and repeat visitors. The trend of advertising is clearly shown in the Internet advertising numbers. The sale of Internet banner ads alone is up another 10% for 2005.
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