Editorial: New Year, New You

Right before the new year, a popular meme floated around social media called the 10-Year Challenge, where people compared their 2019 self to their 2009 counterpart. Some people posted embarrassing hairstyle and wardrobes choices they made; others posted their accomplishments and how far they’ve come. As for me, a decade ago, I was preparing to move from Michigan to California, and now my “winters” consist of a few rainy days instead of the usual snow blizzard and freezing temperatures (can’t say I miss that).

I thought it would be interesting to do the same challenge for the news industry, so I looked up the State of the News Media (an annual report put out by the Pew Research Center) and compared some stats from the 2009 and 2019 versions to see how much changed in 10 years.

In 2009:

  • The top four news sites were Yahoo, MSNBC.com, CNN.com and AOL. They saw unique visitors grow by 22 percent to 23.6 million visitors a month.
  • S. newspaper print circulation fell 4.6 percent daily and 4.8 percent Sunday.
  • Total ad revenue for newspapers fell 16 percent in 2008, and online ads amounted to less than 10 percent of revenue.
  • Online video advertising only represented 10 percent of internet advertising.
  • Advertisers spent $1.3 million on mobile advertising in 2008, up 59 percent from a year earlier.

In 2019:

  • U.S. newspaper print circulation decreased 12 percent and Sunday print circulation decreased 13 percent.
  • Total estimated advertising revenue for the newspaper industry in 2018 was $14.3 billion. (In 2009, it was $27 billion.)
  • Digital advertising accounted for 35 percent of revenue.
  • Circulation revenue was $11 billion.
  • Employment in digital-native newsrooms grew to 13,470 compared to 8,090 in 2009.

These are just a few select figures from two reports, but they paint a very clear picture of this past decade—and where it might be heading for 2030.

Print advertising and circulation will continue to decline (and despite how some experts incorrectly predicted 10 years ago that print would be gone by now, newspapers will continue to “rage against the dying of the light.”) Digital will continue to grow, but there will be more rules and regulations for tech companies who are finally facing the music when it comes to the roles they played in spreading misinformation and how they’re taking their massive cut of the digital advertising pie. Fact-checking will continue to be a priority for many newsrooms as we enter further into this election year, and with more platforms available to news consumers now than 10 years ago, there is certainly more noise for them to filter through.

If you look at our feature stories this month, we hope it conveys what the future will look like next year. We spoke with news publishers from newspapers and digital news outlets as they reflected on this past year and what they have planned for 2020 (overall, they are staying optimistic). We also spoke with several news organizations who launched successful marketing and branding campaigns and why they worked. Our wish is to see more of these campaigns from publishers, especially when it comes to writing their own narratives.

One last note about this new year, Ken Doctor, who spent the past 15 years, analyzing the global news industry recently announced he was going to launch a new company called Lookout, a “wide-reaching new model for local news” taking everything he’s learned over the years and placing it in one place.

“It’s recombinant news DNA for the 2020s,” Doctor called it.

I welcome Doctor’s new company and his analysis. We’re going to need someone to fully study what this next decade is going to look like because as we saw from this past one, it’s unpredictable.

And as he wrote in his announcement, “As I look to the 2020s, I come not to bury journalism but to praise what it can—and must—do for all of us.”

Here at E&P, we couldn’t agree more.

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One thought on “Editorial: New Year, New You

  • January 3, 2020 at 6:56 am

    Overall, a very good analysis but with one flaw: Online distribution of news in this age of speed, but newspapers must resist the lure of joining forces with internet service providers whose price includes undue access to, sales of and intrusion into the lives of those who use the newspaper website–including their specific history of what kinds of information they gather. We produce a syndicated feature that just completed its silver anniversary year, evolving from an NIE tool to a way to restore newspapers to a center of family conversations. Founded as “For the Kid in You,” it now has the subtitle “Unlock Your Inner Child, with a header atop each feature (black & white or color versions) asking “What can you learn from your newspaper today?”We include citations for additional readings, but have to be very careful about even links to newspapers so that we don’t expose young or adult readers to abusive web providers. If our industry hopes to regain both the trust and enthusiasm of our current and potential audience, we must break ties with those whose rapidly damaging the credibility and consumer trust in all internet sites (see the incredibly invasive personal medical data sharing arrangement involving Ascension’s huge hospital/physician and Google fully covered in excellent stories by the Wall Street Journal) and develop a system based on integrity, honesty and transparency. Readers and advertisers will benefit. Readers can shop ads both in print and online and go online for additional information without fear of being flooded with robo calls (if anyone believes the new regs will work better than the previous efforts, I have a 5-mile bridge across Oologah Lake I’d love to sell them); junk email that steals their time and annoying ads for products they long ago purchased–often for the exact product they selected. Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We can change our future by changing that flaw. John M. Wylie II, President, WCI Oologah, OK 74053-0066


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