The web works but it is not a silver bullet

The news did not come as a shock, but the depth of the cuts surprised some, especially Fairfax’s decision to leave the broadsheet format and close Tullamarine and Chullora.

Print, and the changes affecting printed communications, are at the very heart of the painful restructuring taking place at newspaper companies. Not so long ago, newspapers fostered quality journalism because exclusive scoops drove sales. “Rivers of gold” classified advertising funded this culture of robust journalism. The internet came along and replaced both the editorial and commercial USPs. Make no mistake, it will be a blow to quality journalism.

The web is also cast as a saviour, but it is not the silver bullet to their financial problems. According to Bloomberg, US newspapers lost $10 in print advertising for every $1 they gained online in 2011. 

When questioning the future of newspapers, it is only logical that people wonder about the future of magazines. Magazines offer a different value proposition. The focus among magazine publishers has been to talk up the format’s engagement factor, offering an emotional and tactile experience that the internet cannot match.

That said, it would be foolish to deny that online communications are the future. All of us are plugged into the internet 24/7. Many of you are aware that ProPrint has a very active online presence. By the time you read this column, the number of subscribers to our daily email bulletin (the only one in the sector, I hasten to add) should have ticked over the line to 6,000 readers, thanks to steady organic growth.

In a world where every reader’s time is precious and every advertiser’s budget is stretched, all media outlets must justify their position. Robust audience measure-ment is crucial. I am proud that ProPrint remains the only title in our sector whose circulation is audited in print and online. Our readers and advertisers are savvy business people who trust data not spin. Unaudited numbers are worth zilch.

Many of you will have noticed changes to our website, specifically that we are now asking users to register for access to some of our premium content. ProPrint remains entirely free, but we are asking readers to log in to read some stories. This will help us tailor coverage to suit your needs and understand how readers are accessing our site.

Steven Kiernan is editor of ProPrint

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