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News in the Internet Age

New Trends in News Publishing

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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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Annex 1

Newspaper and Online News Measurement Issues

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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