Old vs new: Can newspapers survive the social media challenge?

Published: September 24, 2012
SHARES
Email
Media in the United States and Europe have been pronouncing the death of the newspaper for several years now.

Media in the United States and Europe have been pronouncing the death of the newspaper for several years now.

KARACHI: 

Media in the United States and Europe have been pronouncing the death of the newspaper for several years now. Yet while Asia had mostly been seen as exempt from this trend, is the internet bug finally catching on in the Pakistani media market? Can the Pakistani newspaper survive? An analysis conducted by The Express Tribune suggests that the answer is yes, though there are some caveats.

Of the Rs32 billion spent on advertising in Pakistan in fiscal year 2011, only about 27%, or Rs8.5 billion was spent on all print media advertising by members of the Pakistan Advertisers’ Society, a group that claims to represent 75% of Pakistan’s total advertising spending. That number is down 5% from the previous year, leading many analysts to worry that Pakistan’s newspaper industry may be facing a squeeze that may well become permanent.

Yet there are at least some reasons for optimism on the part of newspapers. For instance, newspapers often earn more revenues through their classified section and through government advertising, so the industry’s overall revenues are somewhat higher than the Rs8.5 billion figure.

In addition, Urdu newspapers are still seen as strong value for money by many advertisers since they go out to hundreds of thousands of households across the country. The Daily Express, for instance, is published in 11 cities nationwide and has a circulation that vastly exceeds that of even the most widely read English newspaper in the country. Advertisers view a newspaper as an opportunity to have an ad be available to their customers for an entire day, as opposed to the few seconds that they might or might not see a clip on television.

And even English language newspapers have found ways to make the digital age work for them. The two leading national English-language papers in Pakistan – Dawn and The Express Tribune – have managed to monetise their website to varying degrees of success. Both of these newspapers even have applications for mobile phones that are ad-supported, offering both newspapers a new revenue stream.

Yet will this be enough?

It is entirely likely that the digital age will cause some newspapers to fail. But others will likely continue to succeed, particularly since many advertisers – particularly those in financial services and others that offer more complicated products – still see print media as the best way to promote their wares. And even though digital advertising is cheaper, its efficacy is far lower than that of print advertising.

“Reading a newspaper is a habit, and you cannot change it easily. So while the share of newspapers in the total ad spend is shrinking gradually, it is not going to disappear anytime soon,” says Saad Hashmi, a client services manager at Orient Advertising.

And then there is the small matter of the fact that a large chunk of the content shared on social media is produced by newspapers. Some of the most interesting news stories are shared virally on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, driving even more traffic to their websites and creating a positive feedback loop, where social media and old media work to support each other, rather than act as rivals.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.

 

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (4)

  • Shah
    Sep 24, 2012 - 7:18AM

    I asked my father why does is still read news papers when everything is available on the internet and news channels …. He said ” news paper parhnay ka maza he kuch aur hai ” :s

    Recommend

  • Sep 24, 2012 - 8:08AM

    I would agree with the statement that newspaper parney ka maza hi kuch aur hia. i have read The Da vinci code in Book form and then the lost symbol on my Mobile. Both the meduims have thier pros and cons.

    Like wise, with print media, the information is in the house, until the newspaper is scrapped, or sent to wrap something, or used as a cloth for wipping up the CAR’s Window. While the if same news is in Social media, I make a point to at least bookmark it or share it for my personal reference if need be.

    Yes, With editorials of Safdar mehmood, Nazir Naji being available on Web (Daily), people like me prefer to read them on web, since I rarely have time to hold the newspaper, yes, the Twitter feeds, Google reader notifications have time to show up in my Mobile notifications and I do look at them.

    The news in Social media can be bookmarked, shared, discussed and can be searched, unlike print media. But print media is very personal, since it is bought, it is cared for, untill it worth is consumed fully.

    So at the end of the day, it’s the preference of how it is being read.

    Recommend

  • Fahad
    Sep 24, 2012 - 3:44PM

    I am regular user of social sites and even getting news,views and update about latest technology which are very helpful to get news instantly but reading the news paper has it’s charm.which you can’t have in today media.

    But what i think with current pace of media(Social and Tv Channels) print media can’t survive longer time in future.

    Recommend

  • Haider Hussainain
    Sep 25, 2012 - 9:54AM

    Urdu Express “used to” be a good newspaper. I stopped reading it since now it’s filled with only advertisements… Why do i waste my money only to read advertisements

    Recommend

More in Business