The death of newspapers? 3

In Australia, we hear a lot about a crisis in journalism, caused by newspapers’ decline.

But perhaps thats because we get much of our international news from the United States where there appear to be genuine problems with the big newspaper groups whose revenue underpinned much of its quality news. These rather gloomy stories are spread by mainstream news  distribution systems which still inform many globalised discussions.

Reports of the death of Australian newspapers were premature, according to The Newspaper Works. The State of Australian Newspapers 2011, published by Newspaper Works, claimed that Australian newspaper revenue had bounced back by 6% in 2010 after a big decline caused by the Global Financial Crisis.

Australia’s Newspaper Works CEO, Tony Hale, said Australia was doing much better, in circulation figures and revenue,  than the US and Europe. Citing the OECD The Evolution of News and the Internet Report, Hale said that while Australian newspapers had recorded a 3% market decline between 2007 and 2009, Britain had experienced 21% negative growth and the US 30%.

Australia had two paid for national dailies, ten metropolitan paid for newspapers and 36 paid regional and local dailies. There were ten Sunday newspapers. There were also three free metropolitan dailies.

Australia doesn’t have the population the US does so there are quite discrete markets and less competition within those markets…The two big metropolitan markets, Sydney and Melbourne, have two newspapers competing very heavily against each other, but the other metropolitan markets only have one [newspaper]. They have quite tidy markets.

Australian newspapers were also heavily diversified. The dominant group, News Corporation, had interests in:

  • newspapers
  • movies
  • television
  • cable
  • satellite TV
  • marketing
  • publishing

Ironically, Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of much of the Australian mainstream press in 1987, had resulted highly profitable newspapers, unhindered by competition. This had insulated much of the press against economic downturns and the impact of the internet on revenue.

There’s been great confidence by the publishers to invest heavily in newspapers. In  both print and online formats the newspaper industry is in very solid shape. Metropolitan, regional and community papers often have colour throughout, [specialist] sections, and high gloss inserts. This has enabled them to retain readers and service the advertising market.

Newspapers dominated online news services. They had also moved  into tablet and smartphone applications. Seven of the top ten news websites in Australia, were newspaper publishers, Hale claimed.

Tony Hale, CEO Newspaper Works

However, the strongest growth in newspaper advertising growth was predicted to take place in the new economic powerhouses, India, Russia, China and Brazil. India, the largest English language press in the world, was expected to increase by almost 15% in 2011, compared to Australia’s slight decline of .3%. “As literacy increases and the middle classes emerge in those countries, newspaper growth can be expected to be strong,” Hale said. “It would be good to be part of the industry there,” he said.

The Newspaper Works is a non profit body established by the Australian newspaper industry, to promote newspapers as “a powerful and influential medium for advertisers”.



  1. Pingback: One Newspaper Please « Le Beer Mat Blog

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