At the World Publishing Expo held in Berlin this week, two CEOs of major international news companies — Andrew Miller of The Guardian and Mathias Döpfner of Axel Springer — were asked a question: On a scale of one to 10, how far along were there companies in their digital transition? How far have they traveled on the road to where they need to be?
Miller: 3. Döpfner: 4.
At the conference, held by WAN-IFRA, Döpfner summed up the chances of all this activity producing a happy result in a single word: “Perhaps.”
As the news industry approaches 2014 — wary and uneasy, its annual budgeting exercises by now a familiar form of torture — that “perhaps” sums up so much.
Over the past three years, new hopes and strategies have been fueled by the new knowledge that readers will indeed pay — and sometimes a lot — for digitally delivered content. But the deepening print ad downturn has allowed no one to enjoy that lesson.
You can sum up 2013 in news publishing in a single word: sobering.
So as that budgeting starts to take out more staff and change the nature of how news companies are run, let’s take a look at the 2014 soon to come. Let’s look at the 10 of the most impactful facts that look ready to shape the year ahead:
- The print ad decline continues unabated. As
recently as this year, news publishers expected the drop in print
advertising to flatten out. Marketers’ rush to shift print dollars and
euros to digital would slow a bit as advertisers found some balance in
their spending. A recovering economy would help lift their print boats a
It hasn’t happened. Quite the opposite. If anything, we’ve seen an acceleration
of the transition; European publishers are telling me of double-digit
print declines, while U.S. ones are struggling to keep their losses in
the high single-digit range. Most importantly, they now believe next
year will just offer more of the same. Negative print revenue is a
foregone conclusion in 2014 budgeting; the only question is how much.
The big question: If it took almost a decade for news publishers to lose half of their print ad revenue, might it take just half a decade to lose another half? The astounding toll so far: The global newspaper industry is down $51 billion a year in total revenues from 2006, having lost 39 percent of its take...