Business Live – 04 December 2011

Print media continued to struggle this year, and 2012 will be no different, according to brand and reputation research company Ornico.

Image: Gallo-Getty

CEO Oresti Patricios said news was increasingly becoming commoditised and people were looking for greater value from newspapers.

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s latest report, weekly titles were up 19% in the third quarter of 2011 but daily newspapers remained under extreme pressure.

General growth in magazines came from new entrants, and in the case of declining titles, economic pressures rather than reader rejection was to blame, the ABC report also revealed.

The axe has fallen on steady slew of local and international publications over the last few years largely on the back of the economic downturn. Another contributor to the “death of print” syndrome is digital migration and the use of tablet devices, which has seen the way people consume their news change.

Looking to the future, Patricios believes that winners in the newspaper sector will be those who differentiate and cater to specific markets and news offerings that cater specially for device markets.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Entertainment & Media Outlook: 2011-2015, predicts that with increased broadband penetration, the internet is expected to become a more formidable competitor to print newspapers.

With the total number of internet users in SA is expected to increase to 22.8 million in 2015, from six million in 2010, it is easy to see why smartphones, iPads and tablets are emerging as popular platforms for online newspapers and magazines.
However, PwC SA’s E&M sector leader Vicky Myburgh said consumers still viewed digital content as inferior to their traditional physical formats and publishers were faced with the challenge to monetise their digital migration.

Similarly, Patricios said titles that would win would be those that differentiate their device or online offering from their print title, and don’t merely shove print content online but create separate but synergistic products that support each other.

This would provide a compelling opportunity for publishers who are sweating bullets over the demise of print to create cutting-edge newsworthy online content in a world where dwindling advertising budgets and economic woes are an almost permanent fixture.