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Digital and the Death of Newspapers? Not quite.


A story from Social Media Today yesterday entitled “Newspapers dying. Five million people don’t think so” certainly got my attention.  

As an avid user of social media technologies, and technology in general, it has been some time since I purchased a traditional printed newspaper. OK I do read Metro every morning, but that is usually for the celebrity gossip and other irrelevant news – so that doesn’t count. All of my news comes from RSS feeds delivered via Google Reader – so it made me wonder what this was all about. Were print newspapers experiencing a renaissance or was there something more allusive behind this headline?

In fact this headline is deceiving as, in its essence, it relates to Facebook. But rather interestingly the uptake of newspaper feed applications within the Facebook platform.

According to Social Media Today, the Washington Post’s Facebook reader WaPo has secured over five million regular readers. That’s quite a large number, especially considering that the application was only recently announced at the F8 summit. In comparison, the UK’s Guardian news paper is also seeing a strong surge in demand for its Facebook based reader.

To be honest, it’s a natural progression and one that should have been thought of sooner. Print newspapers are limited in their scope and reach as, unlike digital platforms, the content is only refreshed once a day. If you’ve read the paper from cover to cover you’re less likely to read it again – whereas with digital, the constant refresh of content always acts as a pull to draw readers in.

So for newspapers seeing falling subscriptions and readers for its traditional, print based publications it’s clear that the new ‘news distribution via Facebook’ model is likely to continue its growth at an unabated pace.  But it won’t all be plain sailing. In a world where consumers expect content for free, the challenge will be for newspaper owners to find a seamless way in which they can monetize this success.

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