Panic Over Profit: US Newspapers Mistreat Readers

November 17, 2014 • Business Models, Specialist Journalism • by

Call it desperation, or panic, but in a bid to hang on to every last cent of profit, regional and local newspapers in the US are neglecting their most loyal customers – print subscribers, according to Matt DeRienzo, a former editor at Digital First Media, writing in the recent edition of the Nieman Lab’s newsletter. DeRienzo believes that in a bid to maintain profits as print circulations fall, local legacy media organisations have generally increased subscription prices and become less accessible to their readers. “Local newspapers have gotten really good at mistreating their most loyal customers,” he wrote. “Long ago, newspapers outsourced their main point of contact with customers. Attempting to bypass that system and talk to someone who actually works at your local paper is notoriously difficult. They are treading water today by drowning the local revenue base of tomorrow.” DeRienzo said that the US legacy publishing industry is making a fundamental mistake. The revenue provided by print subscribers should not be overlooked by publishers as it has been more stable than print advertising.  Print subscribers are also “local and engaged, community influencers who can shape a brand’s reputation,” he said. Despite subscription price increases, DeRienzo said that publishers are not re-investing profits into developing digital platforms. Instead of investing in the future, or in quality journalism, newspapers are focussed on trying to keep their shareholders happy.

This story was first published by Nieman Lab, November 2014:

pic credit: Flikr  Richard Roberson

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