World Association of Newspapers President Declares Newspaper Circ Up, Globally

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By: Joe Strupp

So newspapers are on the downturn? Think again, says the president of the World Association of Newspapers. He declares newspaper circulation worldwide was up about 1.3% in 2008.

Gavin O?Reilly, President of the World Association of Newspapers and CEO of Independent News and Media, declared in a speech Wednesday that, despite the global financial crisis, newspaper circulation grew worldwide in 2008. He said such data contradicts “misleading” reports predicting the end of newspapers.

“The simple fact is that, as a global industry, our printed audience continues to grow,” he said, according to a report on the WAN Web site.

“But you might say that this growth is taking place in the developing markets of the world and masks a continued downward trend in the developed markets. And to a degree this is true, but not the whole story, as newspaper companies in these markets have embraced digital technologies to further improve their audience reach,” O’Reilly said in a speech opening the World Association of Newspapers Power of Print Conference in Barcelona, Spain. He added that predicting the demise of newspapers “seems to have reached the level of a new sport.”

“That this doom and gloom about our industry has largely gone unanswered is, to me, the most bizarre case of willful self-mutilation ever in the annals of industry,” he said. “And it continues apace, with commentators failing to look beyond their simple rhetoric and merely joining the chorus that the future is online, online, online, almost to the exclusion of everything else. This is a mistake. This oversimplifies a rather complex issue.”

O?Reilly also pointed out that 1.9 billion people read a paid daily newspaper every day; newspapers reach 41% more adults than the Internet; and more adults read a newspaper every day than the number of people who eat a Big Mac every year.

“Whilst it may be true to say that in some regions, circulations are not a boom sector, newspapers continue to be a global mass media to be reckoned with, achieving a global average reach of over one third of the world’s population,” he said. “So if we are a declining industry, the definition of declining is a strange one. We are an industry with massive reach of the global population and one that achieves massive revenues.”

The entire report on O’Reilly’s speech can be found at the WAN Web site, here.

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