Newspaper Digital Strategy Blunder

October 23rd, 2016 Posted in Print Related, Web Related


I was in the process of looking for an advertising article for another class and I stumbled upon a very interesting article in The Buttry Diary. This article examined arguably one of the largest missed opportunities in all of the media industry that has consequences far reaching of anything we could have imagined.

Roughly 20 years ago there was a large race to publish the most content online and stray from the print editions that have been successful for decades. Similarly in this initial wave of online content, there was a decision to allow free access too many of these services. The decisions have come to bite the media industry in the butt as now people expect free media content and newsrooms aren’t generating enough revenue to cover overhead cost of running print or online platforms. I agree with the idea that digital media content should have been paid for by consumers from day one.   

Now, we can’t be overly critical of decisions made many years ago. Hindsight is always twenty twenty. Similarly there was a greater unknown of the power of online media as well as too much faith in print ad revenues. None the less this is the major question that newspapers are facing now and that this next generation of media professionals will have to grapple with.  

I expect that free forms of online radio, web content, and the likes will cease to exist. I am not saying that people will not produce content for these platforms, however there will be an expectation that these services will be paid for by us, the consumer. This may be on a subscription basis or potentially on a story by story basis. The media is ultimately a business and there is no other business that I can think of that gives away its product for free as much as the media industry does now. The traditional business model is failing.

Also, I expect there to be less original content. It is easier for large media conglomerations to produce national content and local content with smaller affiliates that it is for smaller companies to keep up. There is going to be fewer voices in terms of professional reporting. However, in order to keep these big businesses in check, citizen journalism will increase for areas of local content as well as media injustices. It is easier now than ever for individuals to share information and ideas.  

While these are reasonable predictions, they are ultimately just predictions. The age of online content is so young that it is hard to say what the future holds. As it evolves something that is perceived as a good future idea, may be a bad idea in a month of a week. However, I can say with certainty that it is up to us to figure out whether the future of the media will be positive or negative.  

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.


  1. 2 Responses to “Newspaper Digital Strategy Blunder”

  2. By Caitlin Kirchner on Oct 23, 2016

    Super interesting blog post! I have often wondered why it’s free to read articles online, but you must pay to read them on a hardcopy. I know some journalism sites allow you to only read a couple articles before subscribing, but I feel that is easily avoidable because often you were searching for just one article to read. Scary to think something like free radio would become a part of the past, but it makes sense if they need to generate revenue.

  3. By Kyle Geissler on Oct 23, 2016

    There was a lot of faith in the beginning that the audience would move to digital and the revenue would come with it. The problem is that digital advertising hasn’t matured to the point that it can replace print revenue. One interesting debate is over the actual value over these ads? Are online ads undervalued? Are print ads overvalued? The answer to both questions might very well be yes. The issue remains: How do we pay for journalism. After all these years, I still have faith that it will happen. There’s too much demand for it to simply go away.

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