In The Washington Post, Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, lays out five myths about the future of journalism. After shooting them down, one reality remains: The formula for success is still elusive.
One of Rosenstiel’s myths is that “newspapers around the world on the decline.”
Actually, print circulation worldwide was up more than 5 percent in the past five years, and the number of newspapers is growing. In general, print media are thriving in the developing world and suffering in rich nations. Print newspaper ad revenue, for instance, rose by 13 percent in India and by 10 percent in Egypt and Lebanon in the last year for which data is available. But it fell by 8 percent in France and 20 percent in Japan.
The forces tied to a thriving print newspaper industry include growing literacy, expanding population, economic development and low broadband penetration. In India, for example, the population is growing and becoming more literate, but a substantial portion is not yet online.
Advertising revenue makes up a much larger chunk of total income for American newspapers than for newspapers in other countries, suggesting that “the need to charge for online access may be even more important abroad,” Rosenstiel writes. Perhaps newspapers in other countries will be closely watching the success of the New York Times’s paywall and other experiments in generating revenue from online readership.