Is print dead? The question echoes from the halls of half-abandoned libraries to lists of discounted magazine subscriptions. The truth is…it depends. It is tempting to group all kinds of publications into one category, yet while it is true that magazines, newspapers and community papers are all printed publications, it’s important to understand that they are significantly different from each other. These differences strongly impact their success in our increasingly digital world. Some magazine labels have struggled while others have thrived. Although newspapers face similar struggles, it has been newspapers, not magazines, which seem to have received the most ink—pun intended—for the demise of print.
Many newspapers still struggle to survive, and, unfortunately, some have closed. Why? Too often, many of these papers try to please shareholders, and the newsroom is increasingly sacrificed in the resultant obsession with saving money and improving the bottom line. Therefore, these newspapers lose their focus on excellent journalism, and consequently, they lose their subscribers, as well. These subscribers seek their news elsewhere, starting with the internet. This unfortunate exodus away from the newspaper industry has given rise to the perception that all print is dying. This is simply not true.
Unlike their diminishing cousins, community papers are still widely sought out and read. Although there are other advertising alternatives, and the internet with its social media does play an important role, the printed word, including ads, is still the most trusted form of communication according to Jeremy Kressmann in his 2017 eMarketer article, “Consumer Trust is Evolving in the Digital Age.” States Kressmann, “An October 2016 survey by MarketingSherpa found that 80% or more of US internet users trusted print ads in newspapers, magazines and TV ads when making buying choices. Digital ads fared worse. Some 39% of respondents said they trusted online banner ads, and another 39% said they trusted mobile ads.” Print ads are a clear favorite with many readers looking to community papers, such as our Genesee Valley Penny Saver, each and every week. Our confidence in our effectiveness in reaching our communities is grounded in data from the Circulation Verification Council, the leading auditor for community publications in the U.S. Here at the Genesee Valley Penny Saver, our numbers for market penetration (98.5%), readership (80.2%) and reader influence (79.3%) are among the highest in the country.
So, I ask the question again: Is print dead? Not for us.