Newspapers really aren't doing as badly as media commentators would have us think, says Gavin O'Reilly, president of the World Association of Newspapers and CEO of Independent News and Media. He did not deny that the newspaper industry has difficulties, but said that these are shared by many other industries in a period of economic crisis.
Speaking at the WAN Power of Print Conference in Barcelona, he explained, "this is not to deflect the seriousness of the situation, and it is very serious, but it remains a fact - all major media are suffering alongside our colleagues in other major business sectors."
O'Reilly described predictions of the imminent death of newspapers as "misleading", and accused media pundits of "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."
"The simple fact is that, as a global industry, our printed audience continues to grow," explained O'Reilly. Global newspaper circulation increased +1.3 percent in 2008, to almost 540 million daily sales, and was up +8.8 percent over five years. When free dailies are added, circulation rose +1.62 percent in 2008 and +13 percent over five years.
Pointing out that 1.9 billion people read a paid daily newspaper every day, and that newspapers reach 41% more adults than the Internet, O'Reilly added that "if we are a declining industry, the definition of declining is a strange one". Indeed, more adults read a newspaper every day than people eat a Big Mac every year!
Source: World Association of Newspapers