And there is more reason for believing in print. FT chief John Ridding explains why print has a future. Ten years ago at a media investment conference in New York he was asked if print newspapers would still be around in 10 years as a significant format. Digital delivery was developing fast, with the disruptors, led by Google and Facebook, seizing share of audience at an accelerating pace. He replied: “Yes, for sure,” and was greeted with scepticism by the analysts who had studied the downward charts in print circulation and advertising.
Ten years on, he’d still say yes to the same question. And I agree totally. Newspapers have unique attributes. At a time of limitless information and limited time, they provide the valuable service of selection and judgment for readers and an informed hierarchy of importance. They also enable the satisfaction of completion, a contrast with the wormholes of the web. They are an attractive format for advertisements, with tactile and visual appeal, part of the reason why luxury advertising in print has held up so well.
I would like to add that I hear many readers say that paper means relaxation. A moment for themselves. Digital is like work. Exhausting. Many people say that print and digital have the same information, so digital will logically disrupt print. But that is like saying that seeing a movie on your phone is like going to a movie theatre. It is the same movie, but the experience is totally different.
These factors help explain the relative resilience of print circulation. Decline is real, but it isn’t as drastic as is often portrayed. And yes there is a great future ahead of us.