Mainstream media knows more than you think

    May 31, 2005

BBC News: Newspapers are far from dead, despite the challenge from online news and blogs, media executives have been told.

[…] The challenge now for established newspaper groups is not just to respond to changes in the consumption of electronic media, but to start profiting from the new ways that audiences access their media.

I’ve deliberately truncated the full BBC story, reporting on the annual meeting of the World Association of Newspapers, as I want to highlight a point – that new-media channels like blogs are not a dire threat to established mainstream media if mainstream media embraces these new channels, and not resist them.

It’s become literally self-evident that blogs in particular are here to stay and those members of the mainstream media – whether print or broadcast – who embrace them will find that they will help open up new channels to build relationships with readers, viewers and listeners in new and different ways.

They are evolutionary and will help mainstream media make the jump through hyperspace (I think that’s an apt Star Wars metaphor) to reach a new plateau of loyalty-creation with those readers, viewers and listeners.

It’s still embryonic and some of the statistics about newspaper circulation growth quoted in the BBC story (see below) could maintain some of the complacency and denial exhibited by some media when it comes to the subject of blogs – read this story in USA Today, for instance, for such an example. Actually, best to see it as absolute cluelessness by the journalist and his editor, as Don Giannatti so beautifully points out.

Anyway, the BBC report shows the sign of the current mainstream media times.

On the one hand, things aren’t looking too bad:

  • global newspaper sales hit a new daily high of 395 million in 2004
  • the five largest markets are China, with 93.5 million copies sold
    daily; India (78.8 million); Japan (70.4 million); the United States
    (48.3 million); and Germany (22.1 million)
  • the audience for newspaper websites grew 32% last year, and 350% over five years from a very low base
  • 2004 saw the best advertising performance in four years, with a revenue increase of 5.3%
  • And on the other hand:

    “Newspapers are clearly undergoing a renaissance through new products, new formats, new titles, new editorial approaches, better distribution and better marketing,” [Timothy Balding, WAN director-general] said. “Despite the incredible competitive challenges in the advertising market, newspapers have more than held their own and their revenues are strongly on the increase again.”

    But he warned that although newspapers’ online revenues were on the increase, this did not mean the internet posed no threat to the industry.

    Speakers [at the WAN meeting] cautioned against complacency, predicting that free papers, online news sites, and the spread of blogs and other non-mainstream news sources would put growing pressure on the readership of traditional newspapers.
    I think the point’s clear. And I also think more journalists and editors  ‘get it’ about blogs than many bloggers think. Take a look at to see what I mean.

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    Neville Hobson is the author of the popular blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

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