I must say, being in the main press, people often ask me what I feel the future of publishing is going to be like. The below is my two cents worth of what I feel on the whole issue. It is a personal opinion, and does not represent my company whatsoever. The opinion piece is strictly my own opinion piece, and all rights reserved.
Lengthy post ahead. So…
Basically, in order to survive… *Pun Intended*
iSurvive: Digitalize or Die is the way to go.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the press was the most integral part of the mass media. The public consumption of media was mainly through traditional print. The major companies had considerable financial strength and newspapers had a prominent foothold in the public’s consumption routines and habitual daily consumer behavior. The form thrived even with stiff competition from television and radio. Not anymore. Now in the twenty-first century, newspapers have lost their foothold as the central role of mass media. Print has passed its prime. If you’re secretly hoping that the heat and popularity of digital media will wane away, brace yourselves. Whether you like it or not, or comfortable enough to embrace it, Digital media has taken over as the dominating mass media form.
Trying hard- but is it equally effective?
In the last two decades, we have witnessed Singapore’s newspaper industry going through a rapid digital revolution. Print newspapers are quickly becoming a thing of the past. As digital technology continues to our daily lives, it has severely disrupted the harmony of the traditional print industry and its original business model. Due to a fatal combination of acute circulation decline and monopoly in ownership, even the local English newspaper, with 160 years of history now faces an undeniable crisis in journalism. According to readership trends from the financial report , readership has fell to an all time low these five years, barely scraping through with 481,700 readers. In a struggle to survive, the newspaper industry is adapting accordingly, introducing it’s online, undergoing turmoil and uncertainties as it makes the transformation into the digital age. However, are they able to catch up on the quickening footsteps? Or is it just going to accelerate their death quicker? Judging from readership, it will affect sales, subscription, circulation, advertisers… The list goes on. Everything comes back in a full circle- so how positive is the actual outlook? Or is it just gloomy days ahead?
Where is the money?
However, the transition to digital journalism comes with a heavy price to pay. This signifies the looming death of traditional print media. Digital traffic has seriously affected the print media. For decades, most commercial media have employed the “eyeball” business model- give away content to attract eyeballs. Those eyeballs – the attention of the mass audience– were sold to advertisers. The audience is now all over the place – having multiple forms of media simultaneously, rarely massing together. The bond between the two businesses has been broken. Although the company has strong beliefs of its ability and possibility to survive by going digital and is on the route to becoming a digital media company, the future ahead seems to be still bleak.
The traditional strategy by surviving purely on its old advertisers to continue advertising on their relevant websites is unfortunately not working to their favor. Print circulation has been steadily dropping as readers increasingly switch their attention to news online. The shift of newspaper readers to online news, coming out with websites for traditional titles also signifies facing global competition from the limitless, borderless Internet.
Advertisers are distancing themselves from newspapers, migrating from printed newspapers to the Internet and other media, in line with the drop in revenue. Less comes in from advertisers, and less people are buying newspapers, which substantially lowers the effectiveness of advertising. Advertising online is cheap, and in the web-based world where notable publications does not have a monopoly, or a premium position to market its services. The burning issue seems to be the need in finding a commercially sustainable model, or adopting a new model for the digitalized times ahead.
To a certain extent, it seems that the company is simply shifting all their content from one platform to another rather than adopting a new model. It is clear that they intend to maximize the use of the online market to their full advantage as the digital world undeniably opens up brand new opportunities for accessing, and publishing news. But, there is also no justified digital business model that has generated enough to pay for the professional journalism we often affiliate to newspapers.
The future is bleak… But here is a solution
All in all, the newspaper industry has entered an unknown territory; the technological terrain has dramatically and irrevocably changed everything. Digital technology has already made a great impact on the way we receive information, read, and communicate with others. Digital media is an evolution of traditional media to better suit the needs of the current audience. For traditional media, the publishing industry to survive in this modern digital age, it would need to find a platform that has the ability to connect all people smoothly. There is now so much digital content that it’s becoming almost valueless and invisible. By contrast physical media, especially traditional print that are written, edited and designed by professionals cut through this clutter. In other words, the big news story is that although how media are created and consumed is changing, we will not abandon our old ways.
Advances in technology have enabled journalism to prosper in many ways. All we need is to find is momentum, the equilibrium across all audiences and media to prevent any form of media dying out. The decades ahead will definitely unveil technologies that we cannot imagine today. Amidst the confusion over what will happen to the news industry, some outcomes and scenarios appear certain.
The above is my opinion, what do you think?