The future of the newspaper

From: “European papers optimistic on future — with web’s help” (Sent to me by M&G Online editor, Riaan Wolmarans.)

…but European editors interviewed by the Associated Press appear strikingly optimistic about the future. They see the online media explosion more as an opportunity than as a threat, and express confidence they can provide the content readers need — whether it’s accessed on newsprint, a computer screen, a smart phone or a futuristic electronic scroll.

It is one of the more grounded articles I’ve read on this subject. With the rise of online media and online citizen media, the role of newspapers will change. And no — the newspaper industry will not die, but innovate, adapt and continue to thrive. The following however may happen:

  • Newspapers will become increasingly niched and expensive. They will be a luxury/lifestyle item. Advertisers will love them.
  • Newspapers that concentrate on comment & in-depth articles as opposed to hard news articles will do better.
  • Newspapers that integrate with their online presence, with interactive features and multimedia will do better.
  • Dailies are going to be under more pressure than weeklies. Weekend weeklies will do better.
  • Dailies or weeklies that serve developing markets or lower-income group readers will continue to thrive until internet connectivity becomes more affordable and widespread. Online access via mobile phones will pose a challenge to these publications in the future, but it won’t be nearly as dramatic as that of PC-based online useage.
  • Classified advertising will be almost exclusively online and mobile-based in the future

– Sunday Times (weekly, but should be more analytical)
– Mail & Guardian (weekly & analytical, needs more multimedia)
– Daily Sun (daily aimed at lower income readers, should investigate mobile opportunities)
– Weekender (analytical, but needs a better web presence)
– Finweek & FM (online LSM crossover, but weekly, analytical, gloss magazine)

Under pressure:
– The Star (should be more analytical and reposition itself)
– The Citizen (more analytical, less wire content)
– Business Day (v. strong cross-over LSM with online reader, but strong analytical coverage)

Comments (6)

  1. Ray H wrote::

    Hey, you coulda mentioned our soon to be launched totally interactive, ground-up multimedia daily … I’ve started blogging about it at

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at 4:38 am #
  2. matt wrote::

    That’s worth a blog post all on its own! Nice one, Ray. Will post on it. The Times is well positioned as it would fall into the category of good online integration (if my spies are correct in the information they have been feeding me) and possibly more analytical news if that is the route you are going…. It must be amazing to be able to set up a converged online-print newspaper from scratch.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at 4:46 am #
  3. Uno wrote::

    Hey Matt, this is an awesome summary of what’s happening in the industry at the moment, or where it’s going.
    Content distribution is really changing and in an exciting way. To take a mundane example – I was in the market for a new motorbike and did all my searches online. Autotrader has a print issue out every week or so, but it’s damn difficult to sift through all that info, and then know which bikes are in the Western Cape. Online filters it for you. The concept of having a print classifieds is really dated and seriously needs to be reviewed.
    I was at Die Son’s offices a while back and spoke to their editor about their online activities.
    Ofcourse their target market has almost zero internet penetration, but the mobile penetration is huge, and they’re starting to see what they can possibly do to distribute content through that channel.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at 5:34 am #
  4. matt wrote::

    hey uno – thanks for the comments dude. online is one area that is doing very well for autotrader… so you saw Ingo at die son? I was with him on a conference in Kenya a while back. Great guy — and remember — DIE SON SIEN ALLES

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at 10:14 pm #
  5. Ian wrote::

    An excellent analysis. I’m particularly interested in whether the other main groups can respond with a focus on highly local content, which is where I see the (Sunday) Times and M&G being weak.

    Friday, April 13, 2007 at 12:10 am #
  6. Vix wrote::

    Might want to reconsider that ‘best positioned list’…

    Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 9:18 am #