The newspaper industry sees no threat to its survival in the foreseeable future from the digital media contrary to the raging debate over the sustainability of the print media due to the advent of the digital newspapers and internet.
Despite the problem of falling advertising revenues, forecasts of even further declines and pressure from new competitors, the global newspaper industry is far from facing an "apocalypse," World Newspapers Association co-chief executive officer Timothy Balding said adding contrary to the endless predictions about the death of newspapers, they actually continued to grow, at least on a global scale.
Mr. Balding released the report on the annual update of World Press Trends at the 62nd World Newspaper Congress on Tuesday. The day marked the opening of the Info Services Expo – 2009. The expo featured 42 stalls with leading media and media services related companies displaying their products for the participants.
Mr. Balding said while the industry was facing a long-term decline in the U.S. and European markets, circulation of newspapers registered a consistent growth in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Explaining the highlights of the report, he said the print advertising was set to decline further and it was predicted that the combined print and digital advertisement revenues in the year 2013 would be less than the print only ad revenues in 2008. "If the newspaper companies wished to maintain their strong content leadership, someone is going to have to pay. We have to solve the digital payment issue soon," he said.
Participants at a session on "Newspapers: A multi-media, growth business" that followed the release of the report concurred on the majority of the observations made in the report. They stressed the need for the industry to look at new business models including paid-for online access that had become a pressing concern for the news publishing industry.
Dow Jones and Company chief executive officer Les Hinton suggested that the newspapers should pause and recognise that billions of dollars worth of high quality journalistic content they created was leaking to the free Internet. "News is a business and we should not be afraid to say so," he said.
There was a time when radio was free, and so was TV. But subscribers were willing to pay for satellite radio and cable television and the hard-won right to distribute quality copyright content produced at high cost on payment had to be asserted. Newspapers would continue to be in demand if they provided value that consumers sought.
Mr. Hinton said The Wall Street Journal of the Dow Jones Company collected charges for digital content and it was creating a platform on which multiple publications could come on-board. Acknowledging that tax-funded media organisations such as the BBC were "publishing a daily newspaper online," but there was still scope for newspapers to charge for access.