Print newspaper readership is diminishing and digital subscriptions are on a very slight increase. Roy Morgan readership statistics and Audit Bureau Circulation (ABC) figures released this week show that majority of Australian newspapers, 48, declined in readership while only six increased.
The September quarter figures also show that News Limited saw print circulation for its metropolitan mastheads decline 3.89%, compared with a 15.66% drop for Fairfax, according to the ABC. The two publishing powerhouses are administering different restructure plans, News Ltd has remained loyal to pushing their stable of print newspapers, while Fairfax began closing print presses months ago.
The singular, mildly positive piece of news from these circulation figures are that News Ltd’s The Australian claim their digital subscription numbers have risen 16%. The September quarter is the first time the national newspaper has revealed their digital figures since introducing the subscription earlier this year.
*AdNews: The Australian finally reveals digital subscription figures
*AdNews: More bad tidings as newspaper falls again
*AdNews: Fairfax circulation decline continues to outpace News Ltd
*Mumbrella: Digital growth for Fairfax and News, but from low numbers
Legendary magazine maven Ita Buttrose was the ultimate optimist when interviewed by AdNews this week. After accepting her induction into the Australian Magazine Awards Hall of Fame she energetically claimed that print magazines still offer young journalists a “wonderful future.”
Buttrose doesn’t doubt the future of digital media though, during her acceptance speech she championed the exciting publishing opportunities the new medium holds. She’s not convinced the printing presses are coming to an imminent and permanent halt and says that a lack of positive affirmation is allowing negativity to overwhelm the industry.
“I do not think print is going to disappear overnight,” said Buttrose mentioning that some magazines are actually growing in sales.
“We’ve allowed our industry to be talked down and no one has come out and defended it.” Buttrose argued that the negativity surrounding newspapers has swallowed print magazines.
According to Buttrose the bond between women and their magazines are still strong, she even quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt! “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
But can meditating on positive print mag mantras save the industry?
Today Fairfax CEO, Greg Hywood, reiterated that the venerated Australian news publisher would shift to a digital-only model, but stopped short of confirming it by saying that would only occur only if print became unprofitable.
Hywood spoke at the Fairfax General Meeting today saying, “Your board and management are clearly and decisively preparing for the time – which may be in three years or 15 years – when print publications in the Metro business can become unprofitable and we move to a digital-only model. We are taking the necessary steps now and will in the future take further action if required. We will manage the business in the world of reality and not sentimentality.”
“But while there is cash flow to be generated from print, we will still be there,” it was reported in AdNews today.
Leading media analysts recently gave the print life of Fairfax’s news stable another seven years. Business Spectator reported earlier in September that the major metropolitan newspapers would be the first to go and speculated on the year 2019. Fairfax could cut the weekday editions of titles like the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times initially, it reported.
*Business Spectator: Key Fairfax publications ‘digital only’ by 2019: analysts
*Fairfax to shift to digital-only model