Newspapers are transforming, and they have been for quite some time now. Gone are the days when you could see the kid next door riding his bike around the block, tossing newspapers onto every front porch. Nowadays, it’s rare for papers to be delivered at all, with many people changing their subscriptions and getting their news elsewhere, namely, online.
With the advent of the Internet, news was suddenly easy to get – and free. So most newspaper companies’ reaction to this was to put up their own website with their news coverage and provide it for free. The advertising on the website would be a new revenue stream. However, the result of all this was to hasten the demise of the print edition of the newspaper. Why pay for the cow when you get the milk for free?
The last 10 years have been painful for newspapers. As seen recently at the Wall Street Journal, they are restructuring, laying off employees, and closing overseas bureaus in order to upgrade their digital capabilities. Many others have gone into bankruptcy or out of business altogether. In the aftermath of all of that, many were sold or consolidated. Where do they go from here? Two regional newspapers have taken completely different strategies.
In 2013, The Harrisburg Patriot News reorganized into the PA Media Group with a greater focus on digital news and marketing. They cut the print edition of their paper from seven days a week to three. They continue to provide access to their website, www.pennlive.com, for free. Their biggest revenue stream comes from digital marketing, selling services such as SEO, SEM, PPC, social media, video, email, and mobile advertising through their network and other third party networks. This seems to be a common strategy that many mainstream media have chosen.
The Reading Eagle has taken a different approach. The Eagle is somewhat of an anomaly in the newspaper world, since it has always been, and still is, locally owned. They made a decision several years ago to cut back on world and national news and expand their local news coverage. They added two specialty inserts to the newspaper that appear every week. One focuses on local business, the other is targeted to the rural population of Berks County. They still to deliver the print edition seven days a week and have expanded the geographic area served. While they continue to provide information through their website, www.readingeagle.com, you must now have a subscription to read most of it. To add to their revenue stream, they also have a local AM radio station, a commercial printing division, a web design division, and just recently added a promotions division that will promote concerts, events and entertainment in Berks County.
In a world where almost everything is becoming digital, companies have to adjust to keep up with the times, and that includes the newspaper companies. Evolving and adapting is essential to thrive in today’s tech-heavy society and there are various avenues papers can take to find their way to the public and stay afloat. Newspapers continue to play an essential role in the life of any community and we hope they can continue to find success in this digital age. We need good, hard news, not just blogs and opinions.