The Passing Of Print Media – R.I.P. Life
Life Magazine and Infoworld will cease to exist as print magazines. The announcement in Business Week and Network World might come as a surprise to many, while ‘industry watchers’ try to determine whether this is a “short-term slump or a deepening systemic problem”.
“I’m reluctant to say that a single data point is a trend,” said Barry Parr, a media analyst at Jupiter Research. “But those are scary numbers, especially when we’re not in a recession.”
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.
This isn’t the first death for the print version Life Magazine as reported by Business Week;
Originally launched in 1936 as a weekly, Life was suspended from regular publication in 1972 and brought back as a monthly in 1978. It was suspended again in 2000, then brought back as a newspaper supplement in 2004.
This might suggest that Life Magazine simply isn’t relevant for the current generation of readers but the N.Y. Times reports that print ad revenue is down for even the largest papers, like USA Today, while Gannett, USA Today’s owner, reports an ad revenue drop of 3.8% in February.
The small markets aren’t faring much better;
Even papers in smaller markets, which are shielded from some of the forces buffeting some of the bigger metro dailies, saw losses in February. Ad revenue for the publishing division of Media General, which owns The Tampa Tribune, The Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Winston-Salem Journal, were down 5.8 percent.
With costs up and revenues down, print media will simply have to find ways to adapt. The discussions about ‘short-term slumps’ need to cease. It’s not a short-term slump. It is a steepening of a gradual decline that has been evident for the last five years and much worse over the last two.
What market can absorb an influx of old print media corporations that have finally decided to embrace the online world? Take a long look at that cell phone hooked to your belt or tucked in your purse.