In developed nations, print newspapers are under siege with fairly steep decline in circulation. But in the developing world—Latin America, India, and Asia (especially China), for instance—print newspapers are thriving with strong print circulation growth.
However, this will change in the coming years. The whole world will move into a digital environment, and digital transformation of print newspaper and news information is a bigger reality today than it has ever been.
Newspapers have weathered plenty of storms over the years. In the 1920s and 1930s, radio came into being, and was predicted to be a transformative moment for the delivery of the news business. As a reader, you did not have to go and get a newspaper; you can simply hear the news on radio. The demise of newspapers was duly predicted. But that did not happen.
In the 1950s, the television entered living rooms and public spaces. Now you could watch the news instead of reading the newspapers (or listening to the radio). Once again, the end of newspapers was supposedly near and certain. But newspapers continued to grow.
In the 1980s, the direct mailing business came into play. Newspaper, till then, had been the main vehicle for businesses to directly reach out to consumers. Direct mail was a big alternative and effective medium for advertisers. Newspapers were again predicted to lose out a lot of advertising revenues as businesses started to use direct mail. But then newspapers reinvented themselves by using preprinted inserts as a method to compete with direct mail, and that presented yet another opportunity for newspapers to continue growing and surviving.
In the 1990s, cable television took news business to a different level by providing consumers access to news 24/7/365, and that was supposed to signify the death rattle of newspapers. Then, of course, didn’t happen. In fact, newspapers continued their growth, and coexisted with the other mediums.
The advent of the Internet, however, was a totally different story. Ever since the early 2000s, newspaper growth has continued to decline both in terms of ad revenues and circulation numbers. With the popularity of digital and mobile devices, the way people consume content has changed dramatically.
Companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter, for instance, have impacted this transformation in a big way by aggregating news for consumers. People have gone from doorstep reading to pocket reading.
The way people consume content and information today is different in a way that they expect it be made available for free. The future of news is mobile and it’s driven that way, as that is how consumers are demanding it. People use multiple devices to get news content. They don’t settle on just one medium.
Ultimately, the daily print newspaper is not a sustainable business. The end-user market requires the industry to change. Many newspaper and media companies have gone to subscription models with digital business. Others are offering a freemium model, where some content is free, and the rest has to be paid for.
There are news aggregators who are selling content by articles rather than the complete issue with a holistic customer focus by combining print and digital together and making it available on any device.
News publishers have started taking out special e-editions on topics of interest by plunging into their archive for related articles to capture specific themes and rolling out e-books or e-editions. Repurposing of content is already being done but now these publishers are giving it addition value by pulling together various content into something that is meaningful for the end users so they have to pay for it.
With digitization, the whole news business has evolved. Digital news is now being utilized as discreet units of information. The true value of the content is now unleashed; news today is instantaneous to meet end-user expectations although the news quality does vary widely. A lot more content is available as new sources of news continue to emerge. Analytical tools are becoming more critical to perform tasks such as data/text mining, sharing, and collaboration due to the convergence of news and data.
Today, newspapers and magazines preserve a rich record of the past, and since the arrival of digital media, many institutions across the world have begun to digitize them and make the digital files publicly available. Aggregators, on the other hand, have been busy developing contextual search-based databases for subject-based researches and helping students and researchers to connect the dots with history.
As a provider of newspaper archival content services, Continuum Content Solutions works with media companies and provides digital file production services to create daily, weekly, and monthly digital publications. Our ultra-short turnaround time can produce digital files within 30 minutes. We also collaborate with content aggregators to create database products by digitizing archive content.
One recent digitization project that reached our office involved creating article level METS ALTO XML for newspaper from the 18th and 19th centuries. Image scans had to be deskewed and cleaned up prior to processing to obtain better OCR results. Within six months, our team converted over 200,000 pages.
This is how far the news publishing industry has evolved in nearly 100 years. For sure, there will be more changes (and challenges) thrown into its path in the years to come. But one thing is for certain, news consumption and demand is not likely to decline any time soon.