Newspapers are dying. It’s an inevitable fact that the Internet has made print newspapers largely irrelevant. People think that the Internet has only robbed newspapers of their readers due to the medium’s ability to deliver news faster, but a new study has found that the Internet has been taking ad dollars from newspapers as well.
The Raw Story reports a new research study to be published in Management Science by New York University has found that Craigslist took a huge chunk out of newspapers’ classified ads business between 2000 and 2007. How big of a chunk? At least $5 billion.
So, what kind of impact has Craigslist had on small newspapers? The study found that there was a massive 20.7 percent drop in classified ad rates in the seven years surveyed by researchers. During that same time, they found that subscription prices rose by 3.3 percent while circulation fell by 4.4 percent. With those numbers, it’s a losing game for small newspapers unless they can somehow convince readers to pony up even more money per newspaper.
What should worry more newspapers is that the study didn’t take into account any decline in classified ad rates from 2008 to 2012. The researchers fear that newspapers may have felt the sting of Craigslist even more over the last four years. The study also didn’t take into account other online classified ad services so the impact could be even greater.
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the death of newspapers, the researchers are largely positive. They feel that newspapers are adjusting their business models to deal with the shortfall left behind by the loss of readers and ads. That’s true for the larger newspapers, like The New York Times, that have successfully transitioned to online and mobile.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of small papers without any online presence at all. They will feel the sting of declining readers and ad revenue the most. It doesn’t help that those same small papers are never afforded the resources to successfully transition to an online business model.
If all else fails, maybe those smaller papers can ask a bored, rich white guy in Silicon Valley to buy them.