On Newspapers, Publishing, Ads and an Unknown History
"Newspapers with declining circulations can complain all they want about their readers and even say they have no taste. But you will still go out of business over time. A newspaper is not a public trust - it has a business model that either works or it doesn't."
– Marc Andreessen
Over the years there has been an enormous amount of discussion about how the Internet "killed" the newspaper industry. I do not believe that it is a true statement - at least the murder did not take place as a cause and effect relationship.
Did you know that in 1960 the newspaper penetration rate was as high as 1.1 newspapers in every household in America? Since that pinnacle moment in time, there have been many business, social and work related changes by the public that have affected newspaper readership. By 1970 it was down to .96 newspapers per household. In 1980 it was .77 and by the advent of the internet in 1995 it was at most .57 penetration. The penetration rate now is sub .29 Do you see the 50 year trend?
I suggest that the Internet didn't kill the newspaper business, but that it is at best an accessary to the murder, if indeed it was murder at all. I think a strong case can be made for a neglectful homicide perpetrated by the immediate family.
The newspaper industry had and still has the same opportunities that every other business new and old has had as the information distribution business changes from what it was to what it will be. There are hundreds of billions of dollars being made and ready to be made in the "new style" modern publishing/reading business. The newspaper industry has had ample time and opportunity to adjust, correct and amend their business plans.
Sometimes I believe that they were just too profitable for far too long to understand the peril at their doorstep. I also believe that for far too long they were waiting for things to get back to normal. I am afraid I have to report that things will never get back to normal, as there is no longer anything that we can remotely call either stable or normal.