Following yesterday’s post re the difficult decisions facing newspaper publishers, I was interested to come across Roy Greenslade‘s comments on the tough times suddenly visited upon the freesheets. The dramatic drop in advertising revenues is of course hurting them even more than conventional newspapers. For example, Metro – which has seemingly become omnipresent – welcomed Christmas with a round of redundancies to streamline its operations.
Will this change the prospects for paid-for newspapers? A little in the very short term, but not much, we suspect. Some winnowing out of the number of competing titles should make it slightly easier to attract what ad spend there is. As Greenslade notes, however, the verdict is still out on whether the freesheet model is dead, and Southport-based Champion Media Group clearly believes in its future enough to launch a new title this month.
But as we wrote yesterday, the decline in newspaper readership appears a long-term trend that results more from our growing addiction to 24/7 online and broadcast news. Newspapers therefore can’t afford just to await the demise of some competitors – they have to find a whole new approach.