When the EMMA (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) were released last week showing a 3.7 per cent year-on-year decline for printed newspapers, the stock-standard headlines screaming about “newspapers slump” were bandied about by media companies.
But industry bigwigs are urging those companies, especially newspapers themselves – in all their formats – to stop, otherwise it will, eventually, become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
News Corp Australia group editorial director Campbell Reid (pictured above) told B&T: “One of the main threats for us in the newspaper industry, and I’m not alone in thinking this, is that we, the newspaper industry, have to get a whole lot more confident about the value of what we do, and what we have already done or have always done, and the contribution we make to society, and we have to stop being the messengers of our own doom.”
Speaking about US media mogul Warren Buffett, who has extended his media empire by snapping up around 60 newspapers in the last few years, he added: “When he started investing in newspapers, either he or one of his executives remarked that almost all of the doom and gloom of our newspapers is published in newspapers.
“But if you landed in Australia from outer space and someone said, ‘I can sell you a platform that can reach essentially one in every two adults in Australia, every day of the week, and that platform is the most effective way of advertising to get a result, and you can have that business probably two or three times longer than most businesses survive on this planet,’ you’d go, ‘that sounds fantastic! Where do I sign up?’”
He explained how there are still “millions and millions and millions of people around the world”, including in mature newspaper markets, who can’t survive a day without reading a newspaper, adding that while most dedicated newspaper readers are adding other channels and other devices into their lives, it’s not diminishing their love for newspapers.
The latest Emma figures for 12 months up to May 2015 showed print and digital platform media reach 16.4 million Australians over a four-week period, up 0.4 per cent from 16.3 million in May 2014. Digital readership grew by 3.2 per cent to 11.7 million
National and metro print newspapers have the highest reach, with 14.3 million readers each month across print and digital platforms. Print editions reach 13.9 million readers, while national and metro digital content reach 11.3 million readers.