It was to Mark Twain, circa 1897, that the oft-repeated witticism “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” was attributed, but this statement could just as easily have been applied to the state of the newspaper publishing industry at any time over the past 10 years.
Feeling of opening and turning pages of newspaper irreplaceable
While it may be true that newspaper circulation is dropping rapidly—a report by the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) notes that average circulation for the three months ending September 2019 and the six months ending September 2020 show that weekday print circulation decreased 19% and Sunday print circulation decreased 14%—what has emerged instead is a valuable, specialised, niche market for print publications, unparalleled by digital media.
Pew Research Center survey reveals the extent to which most American news consumers are unaware of the financial difficulties facing print publishers: 71% of U.S. adults surveyed think that their local news media are doing well financially, while 41% say they prefer getting their local news via TV, 37% prefer it online, and those who prefer a printed newspaper or the radio weigh in at only 13% and 8%, respectively. What’s more, the AAM data shows that the U.S.’s top 25 largest newspapers have lost 20% of their weekday print circulation since the COVID-19 crisis began.
Despite this gloomy backdrop, many—if not most—readers will still agree that the tactile sensations of reading on paper—the feeling of opening and turning the pages of a newspaper—are irreplaceable. The reading experience on paper remains vastly superior to digital, and newspaper print, no doubt, retains its power to share ideas, whatever the objective of the paper.
One area where newspaper printing retains power and value is in corporate settings, where the ability to share your firm’s news to your clients, employees, and community can fill the void left by the decline of local news sources.
The University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media notes that since 2004, 1,800 newspapers have shuttered—most of them (1,700) were weeklies—with an average of 100 newspapers closing each year. There are now 7,000+ newspapers still publishing, a large majority (over 80%) being weeklies that are located primarily in small and rural areas with a circulation under 15,000.
Company newspapers improve brand image in localized communities
Corporate newspapers are ideal to create a durable link, with custom editorial content and can be used to promote a company’s products and services in an original, tangible, durable product produced with in-house talent without the costs of engaging advertising or public relations agencies.
The potential for small businesses to improve their brand image in a localized community is strong, and a printed periodical helps build and foster long-term relationships with partners and employees alike, while paper signals solid core values such as quality, luxury, and longevity.
Printed newspapers demand an attentive audience, more focused on reading the content and material at hand, rather than “skimming” as defined by online reading which comes additionally with numerous distractions such as flashing, intrusive advertising and click-bait links which detract from the core message and quality of the reporting. Image-strong corporate communication strengthens a brand’s value and corporate newspapers have the potential to keep colors, tone, and company culture consistent.
Airbus, Instagram, Chanel, and the Bibliotheque nationale de France are just some of the many corporate clients that have turned to newspaper print services to bolster their brand and strengthen their corporate communications via unique, custom-printed publications—that are not as expensive as one might think.
Print-on-demand runs from PDF documents of up to 7,000 copies are an ideal solution for small businesses, with Kodak VL4200 ink-jet presses and Hunkeler finishing lines delivering high-quality, full-color prints at 600 by 600 dpi definition at affordable prices.
The Pew Research Center reveals further that many Americans are not consuming local news mostly about their own area, something that journalists and media watchers are concerned about. Approximately half of U.S. adults—47%—say the local news they receive mostly covers an area other than where they live.
Local business print publications can ideally step into this breach by reporting on local news items, promoting local events, publicizing the achievements of residents, and even providing a medium for fellow small businesses to advertise their goods and services at a much more affordable rate than the big-city dailies might command.
Bastions of quality reporting and print journalism remain
The Wall Street Journal remains America’s largest newspaper—with an average weekday circulation of nearly 800K counted between October 2020 and March 2021—and the New York Times has overtaken USA Today, taking second spot among the largest newspapers in print. Not for nothing, these bastions of quality reporting and print journalism remain, defying the continuous “reports of death”.
The public, however, has high expectations for their local area news providers, demanding from them a genuine commitment to the community—Pew Research puts the figure of adults saying it is important for local news sources to understand their community’s history at 85%, while 81% want news that is personally engaged with their local area. There is no doubt that custom corporate or community-organized print publications can fill this need.