American newspapers are in trouble, but in emerging markets the news industry is roaring ahead
Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 10/07/2011 21:32
"Who killed the newspaper?" That was the question posed on the cover of The Economist in 2006. It was, perhaps, a little premature. But there is no doubt that newspapers in many parts of the world are having a hard time. In America, where they are in the deepest trouble, the person often blamed is Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, a network of classified-advertising websites that is mostly free to use. Mr Newmark has been called a "newspaper killer" and "the exploder of journalism", among other things. The popularity of Craigslist, the ninth most popular website in America, has contributed to a sharp decline in newspapers' classified-advertising revenue (see chart 1) -- a business where many newspapers have had comfortable local monopolies for decades. Sitting in a café in San Francisco, Mr Newmark looks an unlikely assassin. Did he kill newspapers? "That would be a considerable exaggeration," he says with a smile.
The internet-driven fall in classified-ad revenue is only one of the reasons for the decline of newspapers in America, which started decades ago. The advent of television news, and then cable television, lured readers and advertisers away. Then the internet appeared in the 1990s. A new generation of readers grew up getting their news from television and the web, now the two leading news sources in America (the web overtook newspapers in 2010 and is already the most popular source among the under-30s).