Whither Print Media?

In Sunday’s Post business section, Frank Ahrens picked up the recent ‘whither the newspaper’ meme, examining the reasons behind the steady decline in circulation over the last 17 years.

While there’s little new in his article, Ahrens manages to tie together a bunch of pieces of recent news: the rise of free tabloids, falling circulation, rising web readership, and the possibility of charging for online editions. Indeed the graphic from Ahrens’ article certainly paints a scary picture for the industry (and has very amusing illustrations of how Americans now get their news).

Perhaps the biggest problem facing newspapers, though, is the changing societal routine:

“You can’t take a half-hour to read the newspaper and eat a bowl of cereal in the morning. People aren’t eating cereal anymore, either. I know — I have General Mills as a client. People are eating yogurt bars on the way in to work,” said Steve Lerch, a newspaper advertising buyer.

But before those Posties on L Street start filling out the resumes (may we suggest Monster.com or Craigslist.com rather than the Post help wanted ads?), Ahrens concludes with some good news: “Newspaper companies are by no means close to extinction. Most large companies continue to report healthy profits, and ad revenues appear to be picking up.”