Newspapers continuing slump


Years ago here because of the importance to many of my clients, I used to analysis newspaper sales. In those days the newspaper companies ruled a large slice of Australia's retail stores. Milk bars, newsagents, lotto agencies and small supermarkets would go into a panic after a threat of a newspaper rep to cut off their newspapers as newspapers brought in a significant number of customers every day to them. Well, those days are long gone. 

The latest report by the Audited Media Association of Australia, for the last half of 2018, reported most major newspapers publications fell around 10% about the same decline like last year and slightly higher on what I reported here five years ago.

See the latest figures for the decline in newspapers here. 


Weekday circulation from ABC

The figures are worse then they look as electronic subscriptions are included which have less profit then printed copies and as the newspapers' financial paying readers who I suspect are now almost all 50+ go, so will the printed newspapers in Australia. 

In retrospect, I am sure that much could have been done better by the newspaper companies, for this I blame personally poor management and the editors. 

Although I liked very much the people personally in News Corp and thought they were really trying to help, I always felt that they needed solid modern marketing professional help which they never got till it was too late.  

When I went to meeting at Fairfax and News Corp which was frequent to discuss circulation. I and I think almost everyone at the meeting would leave thinking that we were talking to a brick wall. It did not matter what anyone said, as nothing was appeared to being listened too and nothing was being acted on. Here is some example from submissions that we put in:

-When the newspaper companies were talking about getting on subscriptions, we pointed out that the only result would be that people paying full price for newspapers would get used to paying only a discounted subscription. Once they got used to paying a discounted price, it would be impossible to get them to pay full price again. We were right because that is what happened.

-Our research showed that many people were buying newspapers just to do the crosswords, so we suggested changing the crossword every edition. Great idea I was told by the News Corp, nobody got back to us about our research and nothing was done.

-We offered to link the computers across Australia to their computers to improve handling of newspapers. Again nothing was done till years later.

-We pointed out that many of the newer statistical software programs and mathematical methods could be used to calculate potential demand sales better, yet nothing was done.

-We pointed out that as smaller companies were dropping unprofitable circulation, so a marketing opportunity was being opened for the larger newspapers that were still serving those areas. The local newspaper sellers should then be armed with leaflets with an offer to promote the other newspapers again nothing was done.

-When we pointed out that repeatably the newspaper companies were making changes that were difficult or impossible for the newspaper sellers to do, no-one listened. The changes would come, and there was no way it could be done. As a result, the public is getting one message from the newspapers advertisement and when they went to collect it was a different message.

Soon we and others just stop making suggestions as nothing was done which is probably what the newspaper companies management preferred although I am sure the shareholder and newspaper sellers lost millions of dollars as a result.

As a person who has been involved in newspapers in Australia all my life it is very sad and overall I doubt that much could be done for newspapers. The newspaper companies although they were huge then and their product was popular was already on a decline for 30 years as electronic media was taking even then a large chunk, and the recent development of the internet speed up this decline.



Great article but nothing new here other than stating the obvious.

What I want to see is the percentage decline from 2008 to 2018. This is the number that will surprise and shock. As you say they are counting digital subs in their numbers which just adds another dimension to the inept management and arrogance of Newscorp.

Steve, a few years ago I did such a calculation here which I hope helps, take off another 20% and I think you would have what you want to show here 

Newspaper Circulation on July to September 2008 to 2016


I might agree with you about the inept management in newspapers although Newscorp did very well out of some of their online purchases however I never found Newscorp arrogant. I really liked my association with them. Often they were extremely helpful. 

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