January 09, 2009

The Death Of Seattle Print Newspapers?

The Seattle Post Intelligencer can be added to the list of newspapers on death row.

Catalogers, I'm begging you to consider what this means to the "multichannel industry".

The newspaper industry and catalog marketing industry aren't fundamentally different --- the newspaper industry collects money on the front end, while catalogers have to collect on the back end. Both industries are based on a paper-based habit that is dying among folks age 18-40.

Newspapers have 10x or 20x the readership online that they have in print ... they just failed to convert online readers into sustainable revenue.

Catalogers have maybe 5x to 20x as many visitors online, compared with monthly circulation ... we're doing better at converting online readers into sustainable revenue. Our key is to migrate the model away from paper, should paper become untenable in the future.

I have yet to observe one catalog industry expert, blogger, vendor, or consultant face up to this reality in a public forum. The longer it takes for us to consider our future, the more painful the transition will be --- maybe as painful as it is for the folks in the Seattle P.I. newsroom.

Your thoughts?


  1. Anonymous11:13 PM

    Newspapers all over the place are getting the shaft its just the trend in human behavior. Thay have to react to the times. It is just the way the world works.


  2. Anonymous3:32 AM

    Excellent post. Few points to note:
    1. Brick and mortar stores are in part directly responsible for the closure-
    a. This started about 4 years ago When Macys took over Mayco, and embarked on more tv marketing of national brand vs the traditional regional store/newspaper relationship. As a result a rash of newspapers merged and laid off workers(ex. Philly newspapers hurt by Strawbridges).
    b. Look at bankruptcy filings of Boscovs, Linens&Things, Circuit City, and Mervyns. Biggest creditors after the state/IRS are newspapers. In most cases they will never see that money--that is huge to a low margin industry.

    2. As you pointed out in earlier post, Detroit newspaper stopped home subscriptions due to costs and low volume. People aren't subscribing when most news is "free" on your cell or computer. Shifting dynamics==internet and cell phones putting final coffin nails in what tv started--death of newspapers.

    3. Back to your original point---several articles, especially those critical of Macy's strategy, have pointed out when stores pulled out of newspapers, their sales dropped. Could be, could be economy--too early to tell. But I certainly believe with you there are segments of population that still like newspapers and catalogs...trick will be determining if they will carry into new digital channels, or else how to segment that market and if they are worth the cost of print marketing.

    Personally speaking, I am like many of my colleagues, from the suburbs. We stopped newspaper subscription 6 years ago(picking up occasional paper like T-Day, kids teams make news or exciting local story) but my wife and I get all our news on the internet, and to this day neither of us has ever clicked on an ad on MSNBC, CNN, trade sites, or any of the other linked news outlets we read. Unlike news papers, ads are distractions, not "eye-catching".
    How about you? And how does an MSNBC or other web news outlet convert if most are ignoring the ads?


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