News in the Internet Age

News in the Internet Age

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
18 Oct 2010
Pages :
160
ISBN :
9789264088702 (PDF) ; 9789264088696 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264088702-en

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The economics of news production and distribution is in a state of radical change. After very profitable years, newspaper publishers in most OECD countries face declining advertising revenues and significant reductions in titles and circulation. About 20 out of 30 OECD countries face declining newspaper readership, which is now at its lowest among younger people.

At the same time, many promising forms of news creation and distribution are being tested. Some of these are empowered by increasing technological sophistication, new information intermediaries and the resulting decentralised forms of content creation. However, despite these new possibilities, no business and/or revenue-sharing models have been found to finance in-depth independent news production. This raises questions about the supply of high-quality journalism in the longer term and roles that government support might take in supporting a diverse and local press without putting its independence at stake.

This study provides an in-depth treatment of the global newspaper publishing market and its evolution, with a particular view on the development of online news and related challenges.

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    Foreword
    This study provides an in-depth treatment of the global newspaper publishing market and its evolution, with a particular view on the development of online news and related challenges.
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    Executive Summary
    News creation and distribution were affected by new technologies such as radio and TV and by changing readership habits long before the Internet emerged. However, in recent years access to a wide number of online news sources, the decline of newspaper readership and advertising and classified revenues have considerably affected the newspaper industry in most OECD countries...
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    Introduction
    Independent journalism and news distribution play an indispensable role in informing citizens. They are a pillar of public life and pluralistic, democratic societies. At their best, they are a source of reliable, quality information that people trust and understand.
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    The Evolving Newspaper Publishing Industry
    After an introduction to the evolution of news provision, Chapter 1 provides available metrics and analysis on the state of the newspaper industry, first comparing its overall size and comparing various OECD markets and second by analysing recent newspaper market developments. A few countries are analysed in more depth to give regional examples. The effects of the economic crisis are also assessed.
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    The Value Chain and Economics of the Traditional Newspaper Industry
    Chapter 2 sheds light on the value chain of the traditional newspaper industry and its underlying economics. This facilitates the understanding of cost structures relating to news gathering, printing and diffusion and provides a basis for the discussion of online news value chains discussed in Chapter 3.
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    Online News
    This chapter elaborates on the main online news sources. Where available, quantitative information on online news outlets and their usage will be presented, including number of sites and revenues generated.
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    The Future of News Creation and Distribution
    The impacts of the changing media landscape on news are pulling in two opposite directions and analysis often weighs to one extreme or the other. One extreme is that online and other new forms of more decentralised news will finally liberate readers from partisan news monopolies which have tended to become more and more concentrated and to dominate the production and access to news. The other extreme is that the demise of the traditional news media is before us (partially caused by the rise of the Internet) and with it an important foundation for democratic societies is at risk. This chapter summarises some of the most important arguments of the debate.
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    Business and Policy Issues
    Given the central role of impartial news for democratic societies, the evolutions, its creation and distribution are a matter of public interest. A number of topics are arising which are increasingly at the heart of government attention, related enquiries but also specific actions. Discussions on new business models for monetising content, the role of non-profit foundations to support independent newsgathering and dissemination are ongoing in all OECD countries. In many of these fields, news organisations, civil society and governments will have to balance objectives to sustain a healthy news industry, on the one hand, and to preserve the independence of the press, on the other hand. Moreover, given the increased convergence of the news environment, the regulatory equality across technological platforms or the lack thereof is at stake. The question is whether advantages, rules and obligations applicable to newspapers or even broadcasters should also apply to online news providers, and whether the latter should have a special status. The final chapter of this study will put forward and elaborate on challenges and issues in question. It will start by providing an overview of traditional news and newspaper policies. Then it will assess current policy actions and options by reviewing concerns and activities in OECD countries. This chapter also assesses some policy topics in greater detail.
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    Annex 1
    Measuring the size and development of the newspaper industry is complicated by the unavailability of official statistics on newspaper sales and reach (circulation or readership) and revenues (including advertising revenues). Only a few countries such as France offer figures on revenues, reach and advertising which are collected and published by official sources. Most other figures come from national newspaper associations or consultancies and are often based on different definitions and methodologies, although the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), for example, tries to harmonise and publish the data of national associations in a comparative way. While having an interest in shedding light on a possibly grave downturn of newspaper readership (also to attract government policy attention), the newspaper industry and relevant associations are also eager to cast the newspaper market development in very positive and resilient light to avoid a further disinterest by advertisers. In that light the industry has tried to adapt its methodology to reflect readership rather than newspaper circulation. However, readership figures depend on readership surveys which vary greatly between and within countries and often lead to inconsistent results. Frequently readership calculations from one survey are different from those of another survey. Newspapers are also increasingly eager to measure their combined offline and online readership and audience. As shown below properly capturing online audiences and revenues is also a very difficult task. A commonly accepted good practice of readership or reach combining offline and online has not yet emerged but newspaper associations and advertisers are working on this in conjunction with Internet traffic measurement firms and others.
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    Annex 2
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