Despite What You’ve Heard About Subscription Booms, The Media Is Still Tanking

The Federalist | 10/13/2017 | Michael P. Benard
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Journalism today is a crash site. Onlookers see the debris field and wonder what happened. In July, for example, 28-year-old Ross Barkan, a self-described “American journalist and writer,” published an article in The Guardian’s U.S. edition with this headline: “Biggest Threat to Journalism Isn’t Donald Trump. It’s Declining Revenues.”

This promising headline devolved into name-calling in the first paragraph and throughout the article: “Donald Trump’s … fascist White House …. Trumpian nihilists …. winner-take-all capitalist system.” The headline got it right: Journalism is dying, but it’s not related to fascism, nihilism, or capitalism. Declining revenues really are the threat.

Declarations - New - York - Times - Newspapers

This will surprise some, because it contradicts declarations from The New York Times and a few big newspapers touting increased digital subscriptions. Digital circulation jumps, however, do not equate to revenue increases. Pew Research Center pointed out in June that, despite subscription increases for a few big newspapers, overall circulation and revenue for the industry are down.

According to Pew’s June report, total weekday circulation for U.S. daily newspapers—both print and digital—fell 8 percent in 2016, marking the 28th consecutive year of declines. The overall circulation decline coincided with a double-digit decline in advertising revenue for the industry. The New York Times saw a year-over-year decline of 9 percent in advertising revenue but a 3 percent rise in circulation revenue, for an overall revenue decline of 2 percent.

Business - Models - Staff - Cuts - Bureau

Failing business models result in staff cuts, which are rarely reported. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, newspapers “lost” (i.e., cut) more than half of their workforce (238,000 jobs) over a 15-year period between 2001-2016. The employment numbers plummeted from 412,000 jobs in 2001 to 174,000 in 2016.

It is unlikely many journalists will report on that because the news industry has always been its own best PR agent. Media PR is working hard to manage the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Federalist
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