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A glimmer of hope for newspapers

Survival for newspapers in the digital age would entail developing deeper skills—for instance, managing advertiser relationships and gaining customer insights without compromising on editorial independence and quality.

Print Edition: May 2, 2010

Newspapers globally are struggling to stay relevant with long-term circulation and advertising declines caused mainly by the spurt in online news consumption and Internet advertising. However, a new survey by McKinsey & Company in the UK offers some hope for newspapers. So, while the television and Internet are driving increased consumption of news, the newspapers can still take heart from being the most trusted medium.

This finding does indicate a potential revenue opportunity for newspapers. "Trust" could be an important inherent advantage in the digital age. In fact, consumers trust newspapers more than any other medium, and 66 per cent describe newspaper advertising as "informative and confidence-inspiring," compared with 44 per cent for TV and 12 per cent for the Web.

This, the survey points out, suggests that newspapers have further scope to go beyond news, to drive reader interest and advertising revenues at the same time. Leading newspapers have already created specialised pages and sections in areas such as entertainment, eating out, travel, automobiles, shopping, real estate, and personal finance—and that may well be the way to go. "The combination of editorial content, ads, and selected commercial offers—while clearly separated—benefits advertisers and is of practical use to readers," says the survey.

Survival for newspapers in the digital age, then, would entail developing deeper skills—for instance, managing advertiser relationships and gaining customer insights without compromising on editorial independence and quality. Only those who can walk this tightrope will remain in business.

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