As a journalism student, I’ve regularly had to ignore everyone from my grandparents to the person in front of me in line at the grocery store telling me journalism is dying. You can’t blame them. They are repeating what they have been hearing for years now: The media is dying.
The fact is: The numbers do not support that. The Pew Research Center’s “State of the News Media” can prove it.
Now, print newspapers’ circulation has dropped by 8 percent during 2016. Here’s the thing: 93 percent of adults get news online. That number compiles mobile and desktop use. It includes traditional print newspapers’ online sites and born-on-the-internet sites.
Surprisingly, traditional print news sites have seen a decline in the number of minutes visitors spend on the site, while native internet sites have seen a rise. They are now nearly tied at 2.45 and 2.42 respectively.
Native internet sites, like Huffington Post or Buzzfeed, have risen not only in minutes, but in popularity. Good for them you say, but why? Looking at some tactics of sites with more than 10 million unique visitors per month, we may be able to approach that question.
Newsletters are a popular choice to encourage subscriber loyalty, as 97 percent of the sites send them out. Apple news is the other standardized method of reaching their viewers, with 92 percent of the sites using this platform. Beyond these tactics, 75 percent use podcasting and 61 percent encourage comments. Maybe traditional print news sites should take note. Maybe your site should too.
Speaking of podcasts, they’re great. I’m not just saying that. The number of listeners is steadily increasing, and in 2017, 40 percent of people ages 12 and up have listened to a podcast. The other shocker of the report is that radio is one of the most reliable media, if not the most reliable, in terms of audience. Nine out of ten people ages 12 and up have listened to radio in the last week. I was one of them, yet I’m still surprised.
In terms of monetary reliability, news media’s profits are still coming from ads. Traditionally, print ads have brought in the most revenue. Today though, digital ad revenue makes up 29 percent, and it’s only going to grow. If you’re wondering whether to prioritize mobile or desktop ads in your marketing plan, or you’re just curious, mobile ads are quickly taking over desktop ads. In 2016, mobile ads made up 65 percent of total digital ad revenue. Just a heads up, Facebook is the most successful digital advertiser, raking in 35 percent of the revenue. There’s opportunity to grow digital advertising on all sites, but it make take a few years for newspapers to see numbers comparable to print advertising revenue.
Sometimes I vigorously defend my chosen field. Sometimes I placate the naysayers, promising I will be working in public relations instead of journalism. Whatever my response, the truth is journalism isn’t dying. It’s evolving.
Going forward, stay at the forefront. Do what’s right for your brand and your audiences. I know I’ll be seriously considering newsletters, podcasts and online advertising. It’s just too bad I don’t have a good radio voice. Then maybe my grandparents and the people in front of me in the grocery store line could stop worrying about my future.