Newspapers Struggling as Readership Ages

October 11th, 2005 10:58 PM
The dead tree news media is suffering these days and their readership is aging. This is not a sign of good things to come for the newspaper industry (from the Star Tribune):
Newspaper readership is down. Fewer young people are picking them up, and the average age of a newspaper reader is now 55, according to a Carnegie Corporation study. Many papers have been losing circulation at alarming rates across all age groups.

Newspaper profits and the stock prices of the companies that own them were also down during the first half of 2005. The biggest newspapers are cutting staffs, closing foreign bureaus and taking other steps to meet their owners' profit goals.

Most of these dire trends are nothing new. Deep thinkers have prophesied for years that newspapers are on a glide path to irrelevance or extinction.

Since the advent of the Internet, a common version of the doom forecasts has the ink-on-paper news being supplanted by something not-quite-yet-describable on the Web.
For younger members of the news consuming set, newspapers are their father's media. Why pick up a soggy bundle from the driveway in the morning just so you can read the same stories you were reading on the net last night...or yesterday afternoon for that matter.

With blogs, Drudge, and other sites belonging to media organizations, there are very few surprises in the morning newspaper. With the exception of local coverage which may not be found elsewhere on the net, there aren't very many reasons for most computer-savvy individuals to subscribe to a paper.
The newspaper media has their work cut out for them as they try and keep their product relevant to the changing media market, and try to figure out how to attract younger readers before their readership dies out altogether.