Since 2006 the newspaper industry has seen a sharp decline in readership due to the rise of internet news and other more immediate methods of news consumption. Ad revenues are down 50% in that same period. 1 Things are continuing to worsen as people have stopped recognizing the newspaper as a valid source of relevant news. In many cases the newspaper is not even recognized at all. In a recent survey, people were asked to identify the pile of papers just inside the door of their local Starbucks. 15% accurately identified them as the day’s paper, 7% where unsure, and 78% thought it was part of a community recycling program*.
Old News is Not News
Due to the speed with which news is now available from sources like Twitter and Reddit, what one might have once experienced as a breaking headline in now at least a day old. In addition, what should be limited to no more than 140 characters is expanded into paragraphs and columns of text that often overwhelm readers that don’t have the time to “do a research project.” Many readers feel that if you have to use that many words to explain yourself, you probably have an agenda or bias that you’re trying to push.
Scrolling Not Supported
One of the biggest barriers to newspaper readership is simply the fact that it is folded. This fold has become the cause of significant frustration when the reader is unable to locate the rest of the article or image. While most newspaper editors attempt to put their most engaging content “above the fold” this current generation of consumers find themselves unable to determine the next step. We’ve found cases of readers attempting to scroll the paper only to give up in frustration and go back to the more intuitive screen-based method of reading the news.
Linking Content is Critical for Building Trust
One of the earliest and most foundational elements of the world wide web has been the hyperlink. It is the key to connecting relevant content and it invites the user to make the deep dive into learning more about whatever they find most interesting. The physical limitations of paper prevent this from being an option and is another reason for the decline, not only in the interest in newspapers, but in peoples’ trust of them as well. “When I run into something online that I’m unsure of, I’m only a click away from confirming it with wikipedia or snopes.com,” said Sandra D., mother of two. We’ve become accustomed to clicking on the title of an excerpt to read the complete post, the fact that newspapers have no way of supporting that is a real weakness, and users know it. QR codes have attempted to bridge that gap, but–who are we kidding–nobody uses those things except for other marketing people.
* This poll is completely fictitious and has no basis in actual facts