The Fall Of The Paper Newspaper


The phone rang and the caller ID lit up with the name of a local newspaper. I thought it was the editor for the tech column and answered. Instead, it was the sales department.

She politely asked if I was interested in receiving the paper delivered to my doorstep. I was honestly able to reply that I get all my news online. I could almost hear her groan, but she asked if she could explain the benefits of at least subscribing to the Sunday edition. I said, ‘sure, go ahead’, she had pleasant voice and I like determined people.

She explained that with the Sunday edition I would receive the largest classifieds publication of the week, the TV schedule and of course, the weekly coupons. She also noted that by receiving the daily edition I could keep up on the local news. All good points I suppose and since she was pleasant, (read: had a really sexy voice) I asked if I could explain why none of those features appealed to me. To my surprise, she said yes.

So I told her that the paper was available online and the classifieds were searchable online should I need to know who is selling used tractors or 67 Mustang parts. I have satellite TV and the TV schedule is not only ever present, it’s also searchable by name, subject, even air times. Which left the coupons, which are also delivered free of charge every Tuesday and Wednesday for the stores I frequent in addition to the marketing flyers I receive from nearly every store I’ve ever bought anything from.

I also explained that I get my the majority of my news via a feed reader that can check for breaking news every 5 minutes should I choose to do so.

Then I asked her how the ad business was going. To my surprise she had an answer. She said,

“For the paper edition, it’s terrible, we’ve shifted our marketing efforts to reflect the changes, in fact, we expect to receive more than 80% of our revenue from online advertising within the next year. We’ve also explored discontinuing print editions altogether”.

Now, while this paper isn’t exactly the Chicago Tribune or the New York Times, it’s not a rural weekly, and it services areas like Nashville and Murfreesboro.


  1. I read an interesting piece late last week that suggested that billboard advertising in the US was becoming more popular than newspaper advertising.

  2. DG

    I’ve had very little success with advertising in newspapers. If you run across that article again send me a link, I’d like to read it.

  3. Here’s one article about the LA Times moving to make their website the main part of their news presentation

    and the other one I just emailed to you (it came in an email and there was no obvious link I could post here)

    It made Toni and I look more closely at the billboards we saw on our trip down the coast yesterday. We think there are some real lessons that the billboard people have to teach webmasters.

  4. Tom

    I think it’s worth looking into gorilla advertising where you advertise in a different way than the norm.
    It’s worth looking at and using their online calculator to see what your advertising is worth, so if you’re adverting your product what’s the best website for it.

  5. That makes me sad, even though I know I’m part of the problem. I get most of my news online too, but I love the newspaper. I love sitting at the table in the morning, drinking my coffee, and flipping the pages of the paper. I love getting the huge Sunday paper, full of colorful ads (mmmm, Target ads) and full-sized comic strips, and the cheesy USA Weekend & Parade magazines.

  6. DG

    I still subscribe to one paper newspaper, but it is just to get the crossword puzzle. Something about the smell of a newspapers that makes me want to have a cup of coffee. But as far as advertising goes, well, the old newspaper just doesn’t cut it now.

  7. Hello from Singapore!

    I used to work in ad agency specializing in media – meaning ppl who plan clients’ budgets in the media. The newspaper aint gonna die anytime soon. It has fallen but there will still be a large percentage of people who will never go online for news. The grocery buyers will need their cut out coupons! Or the car owners who would not be persuaded by online ads to decide on car brands, etc. Oh well, what do i care, I have gone online!


  8. DG

    Hello there,

    I think they’ll find a way to revitalize print, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how.

  1. 1 Hervey Bay Gossip - local Hervey Bay news, Hervey Bay information, Hervey Bay images

    […] Here is the link to the post that got me thinking about newspaper advertising here in Hervey Bay – The Fall of the Paper Newspaper […]

  2. 2 N.Y. Times Publisher - No More Print Newspaper Within Five Years « Speaking Freely

    […] I reported on a conversation I had with the media manager of a local newspaper in a post entitled The Fall of the Paper Newspaper. This week, Eytan Avriel reports that Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times has a […]

  3. 3 The Passing Of Print Media - R.I.P. Life « Speaking Freely

    […] Barry doesn’t remember that the N.Y. Times publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, said last month that there may not be a print issue of the N.Y. Times in five years. It appears to be more serious than a short-term slump as I’ve reported on the issue in January in a piece titled The Fall of the Paper Newspaper. […]

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