Wednesday, June 6, 2012

“Free Information” Series – Newspapers

On September 25, 1690, Benjamin Harris published the first American newspaper in Boston, MA. Harris’ PublickOccurrences Both Forreign and Domestick was considered controversial for its time in early America, and was quickly censured by government. Another 14 years would pass before newspapers became a regular vehicle for disseminating information.

By the 1970s, physical print newspapers had a readership of 123% of all American households. With the advent of 24-hour television channels, followed by the World Wide Web, that readership had declined to only 53% by the 1990s.  

On April 10, 1995, Joe Shea published the first Internet-based daily newspaper. Shea’s The American Reporter provides worldwide news coverage, and is owned by the journalists who write its content.

By the mid millennium (317-years after the first newspaper), there were 1,456 daily newspapers in print, selling 55 million copies a day, throughout America. And, 6,580 daily newspapers, selling 395 million daily copies, worldwide.

Today, almost all remaining newspapers now offer readers an online version of their paper: fee-based (per click) through a billable logon mechanism, or as “free information”. Many have discontinued physical print altogether, offering customizable print-based and Web-based models.

Traditionally, advertisers comprise 75% of newspaper revenues, with subscriptions and sales to readers at 25%. While the additional decline in subscriptions and sales has had a big impact on news providers, retaining advertising partners in the Digital Marketplace remains the key to long-term solvency.

“Newspapers cannot be defined by the second word—paper.  They’ve got to be defined by the first word—news.” - Arthur Sulzberg, Jr.

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