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How quick is the end coming for the traditional print media?  

Pretty quickly if the latest circulation figures are to be taken as an
accurate guide.

Australian Bureau of Circulation figures for the September 2012 quarter
revealed the following:

  • The 27th
    consecutive quarterly decline in print newspaper circulation (metro
    dailies fell 6.5%, average national down 5.5%)  
  • The Herald Sun   weekday decline was 21.3%, The Age  
    weekday drop (from a lower base) was 16.91%, The Saturday Age   fell
    15.1%, The Sydney Morning Herald   weekday average was down 15.1% and
    the Saturday edition fell 15.9%. The Weekend Australian   held up
    comparably well with only a 5.6% decline as did the weekday AFR  
    (down 6.5%)  
  • The only newspaper to
    improve its circulation was the weekday The West Australian   which
    added 0.7% to its readership although its Saturday edition dropped 5.3%

The big players were, of course, putting their best happy face on the
results with Fairfax Metro Media chief spin doctor, Robert Whitehead saying ‘Sometime
very soon you’ll see the quarter-on-quarter decline slowing down. Digital sales
would improve once the metros introduced subscriptions for the web and tablet
and smartphone apps next year’

Digital sales are still tiny (14,920 for The Age, 26,091 for the SMH and
27,796 for the weekday edition of The Australian) but the industry is doing its
best to put a glossy shine on everything. The CEO of the industry body, The
Newspaper Works, Tony Hale, enthused; ‘The multi-platform publishing
strategies being pursued by the major newspaper publishers have produced a very
promising picture of newspaper circulations’

In all this feel-good spin, nobody mentioned the awkward six letter word
… profit.

Meanwhile former print media journalists and editors such as Eric
Beecher   (Crikey), Amanda
Gome   (Smart Company), Mia
Freedman   (Mama Mia) and Alan
Kohler   (Business Spectator)
have stolen the march on their former employers with online publishing business
models that actually make money.

I wonder if Tom Waterhouse
would frame a market on which major daily newspaper will be the first one to
stop printing a Monday-to-Friday edition?

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