Newspapers: Hard Copy and Social Media

To say that the death of newspapers started with social media would be a false reading of not-so-ancient history. (Art Attack herself has seen this up close and personal, having previously worked for the daily in Houston that died, the daily in Dallas that died and the two paper daily setup in Beaumont long since reduced to one -- all of these things occurring long before the first newspaper phone app came out.)

But the era we're in now of online news, social media and citizen journalism has seen burn-down-the-house changes in the newspaper industry that both take our breath away and have rerouted many career paths. And added blogs like Art Attack to the Houston Press.

In fact, according to Andrew Sheehy, head of Research for Generator Research, Ltd. in the United Kingdom, online and social media have chewed up the scenery like nothing ever seen before. "While it will have taken the newspaper industry over 100 years to create the infrastructure needed to reach 1.8 billion readers, it will have taken the technology industry less than 10 years to achieve a comparable reach," Sheehy says in promoting his company's latest report -- which if you want to read it, by the way, will cost you just $800 U.S. (We went for the highlights.)

And it isn't only in the United States where newspaper revenues have declined. "United Kingdom -- down 30 percent between 2006 and 2010; Spain -- down 37 percent; Denmark -- down 33 percent; Norway -- down 40.6 percent; Poland -- down 29.8 percent and Japan -- down 36 percent.

But there is hope for paperophiles.

"In markets where modern Internet services have yet to reach mass adoption, the picture is radically different," Sheehy writes.

"For instance, the Indian newspaper market -- the world's largest when measured by circulation -- is positively booming, with advertising expenditure having increased by 70.4 percent between 2006 and 2010 and circulation also having increased by 40.8 percent. Similar growth patterns can be observed in markets like Indonesia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Mexico, Ecuador and Egypt where newspaper circulation has increased by 17.9 percent, 39.4 percent, 67.0 percent, 24.3 percent, 51.5 percent and 27.8 percent respectively over the same period."

"While the revenues of newspaper publishers in developed Internet markets go up in flames, explosive growth in smartphones, tablets and eReaders -- a comparatively recent development -- represents petrol being poured on those flames," Sheehy writes.

And his prediction for the future?

"By 2015 the installed base of smartphones, tablets and eReaders will reach 2.8 billion, and each of these devices will be able to display newspaper content with high quality while most will be wireless enabled. By comparison, the total daily readership of all the world's newspapers in 2015 will be around 1.8 billion."

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