Newspapers may make money online, eventually

The iPhone is one of many devices making newspapers' transition to the internet more difficult (Public domain)

While it’s no secret that the print industry is struggling to make profit on the internet, the print industry is not necessarily dead.

Clay Shirky described in an article on his blog that “nothing works” with regards to newspapers making money from online content. There are several reasons why he may be correct.

First, newspapers haven’t quite figured out the most effective way of selling advertising space.

Ken Beattie of Killbeat Music, a Toronto-based music PR firm, said that newspapers have very high minimums for advertising spots. Instead, he suggested newspapers could reduce the minimums and allow advertisers with smaller budgets to be seen. That way newspapers could advertise more for the same amount of money.

He also said some newspapers didn’t realize they needed to make changes to their business models fast enough. “I think [some newspapers] were really late out of the gate,” Beattie said.

Newspapers also need to reimagine what their audience looks like.

“Readership is fragmented now,” said Cheryl Kim, a manager at Edelman’s Toronto branch. Kim stresses that newspapers aimed at the general population need to find a way to cater to more specific needs.

Finally, newspapers need to realize that a print business model won’t easily translate to an online business model.

“[The newspapers’] online presence is not a mirror image of their print presence,” said Donalee Moulton, a freelance journalist and principal at Quantum Communications.

Moulton also suggests that people in the industry may also make the difference.

“Print people aren’t necessarily the tech people, ” Moulton said. “The next wave of editors will be those who grew up with technology.”

There is already some hope. Moulton points to allnovascotia.com which started in print but moved completely online successfully.

“Don’t think print is dead,” Moulton said.

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