Recently newspaper circulation has been down, and on average, this decrease in circulation has been ten percent. This circulation decrease is largely blamed on advances in technology such as the internet and twenty-four hour news channels. Because fewer and fewer people subscribe to newspapers every year, advertisers are more hesitant to purchase ads. This causes newspapers to reduce their rates for advertisement, and naturally makes the papers less profitable.
To combat this sort of profit-loss newspapers have attempted to make their services available online, thereby replacing their lost profits with money made from online advertisements. This plan has largely failed, with larger newspapers reporting a decrease in advertising revenue.
In Detroit, however, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press have cut down their home print distribution to three days a week (Thursday, Friday, and Sunday which are traditionally the most popular days for advertisers and account for 82 percent of the advertisement revenue received by the Detroit Free Press). The newspaper will be available on the other days of the week, but not for home delivery. This hybrid of print and online reporting is believed to be a good idea because it allows the newspapers to cut many of the costs of distribution and printing while still keeping the bulk of the money made from print advertisements.
According to recent findings, it appears that the plan of the News and Free Press is working. Detroit newspapers are doing better than other large newspapers. While Detroit’s decline was approximately 12.9 percent, other major papers have lost in the area of 21 percent.
When asked about the decision to stop daily delivery, Alan Lenhoff, Director of Project Management and Corporate Communications for the Detroit Media Partnership, claimed that the practice shows promise. “I can’t speak to how other local papers are doing, but I can tell you that this has been a successful move for us, one that enhances our ability to serve the needs of this community for many years to come. Our delivery changes have clearly caused many of our readers to adjust their habits. But nearly two million readers every week come to us for news and information – in print, our e-editions and our websites — which makes us the first choice of readers and advertisers in this region.”
Other newspapers are taking different routes to try to defeat this recent slump in profits. The San Francisco Chronicle, on November 9, began to print its newspaper on high-quality glossy paper, making it look similar to a magazine. The Chronicle is hoping that this causes advertisers to purchase more ads, and consumers more papers. This move is unheard of, and many are waiting to see how it will play out.
While larger newspapers are taking hits, smaller local papers are making gains. The Oakland Press of Pontiac is reported to have seen a circulation gain of 7.3 percent and the Macomb Daily a raise of 4.9 percent.
According to a recent speech given by Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, despite the decline of newspapers, journalism students should not be worried about their futures. Huffington stated that, “We must make a distinction between saving journalists and saving newspapers. There are a lot of innovative ways to support journalists. The fact that newspapers are dying doesn’t mean that there’s no place for journalists.”