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Town Square

"Your community. Your newspaper. Your Life."

Original post made by Gina Channell-Allen on Oct 8, 2013

This is the 73rd National Newspaper Week!
I thought I would address one of the questions I am asked often: "What's going to happen to the newspaper industry? Aren't newspapers a dying breed?"

People have been predicting the end of newspapers for decades. And if publishers had maintained their staunch opposition (almost to the point of arrogance) to anything digital, those naysayers might have been right. I remember standing in a newsroom at a daily Illinois newspaper in the early 1990s and hearing the managing editor say, "We will never put our journalism on the Web. Never!"

Ironically, while I was in Illinois listening to reasons why my stories would never be in digital form, the parent company of this website, Embarcadero Media Group, got onboard with putting their journalism on the Web. In 1994, the [Web Link Palo Alto Weekly] was the first newspaper in the U.S. to have a website.

Now newspaper content is available on so many platforms other than newsprint. And last year newspaper subscriptions actually increased because now digital and bundled subscriptions are included in the numbers. Those subscriptions only account for a 5% increase in the number.

What I find particularly heartening is that more young people, including "Millenials," are reading newspaper content. But unlike their parents who read on their desktop, or their grandparents who share sections of the paper across the kitchen table, they access the content on mobile devices. Here are some other interesting facts from a report published in March by the Newspaper Association of America using the latest data on media consumption from Scarborough Research:

* The vast majority of U.S. adults, 164 million (69%), read newspaper media content in print or online in a typical week, or access it on mobile devices in a typical month.

* The majority (59%) of young adults, ages 18-24, read newspaper media content in print or online in a typical week, or access it on mobile devices in a typical month.

* The mobile newspaper audience is growing fast; up 58% in an average month in 2012 compared with 2011. That totals 34 million adults.

* The mobile audience skews young; the median age of an adult newspaper mobile user is 17 years younger than the print reader.

* Those who are newspaper mobile-exclusive - that is, those who access newspaper content on mobile devices only - are younger by four more years (with a median adult age of 33). That audience grew 83% in 2012 compared with a year ago.

So not only are subscription numbers increasing, the median age of newspaper readers is younger!

So, no, the newspaper industry is not on its way out, but the vehicle by which we receive and read content has definitely changed. The industry's goal is not to sell newspapers, but to educate and inform citizens of the republic. As the "Fourth Estate," we can accomplish that goal in print or digitally.

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