Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Google now wants to answer your questions without links and with AI. Where does that leave publishers?
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Aug. 28, 2013, 12:57 p.m.
LINK: www.theguardian.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   August 28, 2013

In The Guardian, Roy Greenslade notes that Newsquest newspapers (that’s the British arm of Gannett) has hiked newsstand prices and seen a drop in circulation:

One of the key reasons for that drop was Newsquest’s cover price rise strategy. In September last year, it increased the price from 45p to 65p on weekdays and from 60p to 85p on a Saturday.

At the time, the Argus was selling almost 21,000 a day. Over the first half of this year, the average sale fell to 16,622. And it is still falling. In June, the total was 15,787. And I understand that in July it slipped below the 15,000 mark…

Of course, despite the decreasing sales, Newsquest will have generated more profits. And so pleased is the company with its price rise initiative that, despite the catastrophic effect on sales, it has now imposed increases on four more dailies — the Worcester News, Oxford Mail, Swindon Advertiser and South Wales Argus. They went up in early July from 45p to 65p. Expect bad news with the next ABC release next year.

This is a version of the same set of moves that have been popular among U.S. dailies: hike up single-copy prices, hike up home delivery prices even more, and hope that the math ends up with you making more money on net from fewer subscribers. It’s a bet that the remaining readers of print newspapers (a) are quite devoted to the format at this point and (b) can afford to pay higher prices. The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, and others have played that game.

That said, purposefully paring down your customer base (and aligning it even more completely with an older audience) has obvious downsides as a long-term strategy, even as it juices the circulation revenue bottom line for now. Greenslade takes a dim view of it:

Newsquest editors and journalists be warned. The company isn’t trying to sell newspapers. It is trying to make as much money as possible before it kills off the golden goose.

Show tags
 
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Google now wants to answer your questions without links and with AI. Where does that leave publishers?
A dozen years ago, Eric Schmidt forecast the AI pivot that’s playing out this week. And the questions it prompts — around the link economy, fair use, and aggregation — are more real than ever.
A journalistic lesson for an algorithmic age: Let the scientific method be your guide
“One of the best parts about using the scientific method as a guide is that it moves us beyond the endless debates about whether journalism is ‘fair’ or ‘objective.’ Rather than focus on fairness, it’s better to focus on what you know and what you don’t know.”
The future of local news is “civic information,” not “declining legacy systems,” says new report
“In this vision, the community librarian facilitating conversations around authoritative, trusted digital news is as celebrated as the dogged reporter pursuing a scoop.”