The Economist: the strange survival of ink

The Economist reports that,
despite a dismal series of revenue declines and budget cuts, the
newspaper industry still has a few tricks up its sleeve that might save
it from oblivion.
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The Economist reports:

“[The] emphasis on giving readers what they want to read, as opposed to what lofty notions of civic responsibility suggest they ought to read, is part of a global trend. Newspapers are becoming more distinctive and customer-focused. Rather than trying to bring the world to as many readers as possible, they are carving out niches. Proprietors and editors are trying to identify distinctive strengths and investing what money they have in those areas.

“In America many newspapers have plumped for local news and sport, leaving everything else to bigger outfits or to wire services like The Associated Press. Several of them now refuse to deliver papers to readers far from the urban core. Such readers are expensive to reach and less alluring to advertisers. Papers are also courting small local businesses with technology that allows them to design their own ads cheaply. In short, metropolitan newspapers are turning into city newspapers. That may help them in the long term. Jim Chisholm, a newspaper analyst, points out that small local papers have fared better than larger regional ones in many countries, including America.”

The article describes how, if you turn to developing countries, the news industry crisis is practically non-existent. The Economist concludes:

“The survival of newspapers is by no means guaranteed. They still face big structural obstacles: it remains unclear, for example, whether the young will pay for news in any form. But the recession brought out an impressive and unexpected ability to adapt. If newspapers can keep that up in better times, they may be able to contemplate more than mere survival.”