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Is Canada an oasis of calm for printed newspapers?

Is Canada an oasis of calm for printed newspapers?

"Newspapers are proving so resilient that the term "dying newspaper industry" will be retired in the next year or two", the Toronto Star announced, quoted by the Guardian's Roy Greenslade. The newspapers referred to are those in Canada, which seems, as Greenslade notes, to become a sort of last refuge for printed newspapers.

According to the Toronto Star, newspapers are still profitable, readership is at record levels despite the most punishing ad drought in memory and price hikes imposed by publishers, and moreover, "web interlopers haven't laid a glove on the industry's status ad society's dominant news-gatherer."@font-face { font-family: "MS 明朝"; }@font-face { font-family: "Cambria Math"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }a:link, span.MsoHyperlink { color: blue; text-decoration: underline; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 10pt; }div.WordSection1 { page: WordSection1; }Despite the fact that pretax profit margins went down compared to the pre-Internet era, "the extinction forecast for the industry by the most exuberant heralds of a purely digital world", seems far from come true. Especially, the declining readership prediction hasn't occurred. "Quite the opposite," said the Toronto Star, "the newspaper habit is stronger than ever," as over the past five years, readership of Canada's 95 dailies has actually increased.

What is very interesting is that in the competition between traditional papers and online editions, readers apparently spend more time with print newspapers than online. "Newspapers have benefited enormously from the rapid fragmentation of cyberspace", the article says, because in the hyper-crowded arena, the advantage has gone to the most familiar titles, which can count on trusted brand names dating back far to the years (the Montreal Gazette dates back to 1778 for example).

Generally speaking and not only for the Canadian papers, the article argues that the immense flood of information online is a boon to traditional newspapers because "they alone have the expertise to quickly collect and verify staggering amounts of data and present it in reader-friendly formats".

The positive wind blowing in Canada does not seem - however - to blow elsewhere, as indicate, for example, the UK circulation figures released by the ABC.
Greenslade noted, for example, that the Sunday nationals' market is failing at an annual rate of more than 6%, but also the dailies don't appear to be in a better situation.

Winds of crisis appear to blow also in Australia. According to the Australian, citing Audit Bureau of Circulations data, Monday to Sunday sales of national, metropolitan and regional newspapers declined 2.7 per cent in the three months to the end of December compared to the same period in 2009.

Australian publishers have called for sales of digital editions to be included in total circulation instead of reported in a separate column and the audit bureau is working on new rules to determine how both print and paid digital sales will be audited. The idea is that online readership figures contribute to those in print and hence enhance the solidity of the paper's name.

Is Canada the exception to the rule? What is the magic ingredient in the Canadian newspaper industry's recipe for success?

Sources: Guardian (1), (2), Toronto Star, the Australian
Data figures source: Guardian



Federica Cherubini


2011-02-14 14:19

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