Why the newspaper industry matters
By Caroline Little, NAA President & CEO
Once upon a time, the very first newspaper was painstakingly carved on stone or metal and posted daily in Rome’s public spaces. The Acta Diurna carried news of legal proceedings, public notices and prominent births, marriages and deaths, but its readership was limited to the country’s few literate.
Today, the New York Times tweets its headlines to more than 9.5 million followers – and then they are retweeted, shared, and commented on to millions more people online.
We’ve come a long way from the carved and handwritten dailies that were distributed just a few hundred years ago.
Today, those of us who are literate are thankfully not just a small sliver of the elite population. Print and digital innovations have made news available to everyone, and the newspaper industry is on the front lines of improved literacy and education efforts.
Our news is also immediate, which is a critical factor in allowing businesses and leaders to react in real-time to the world’s events. Rather than opening the paper to last week’s news, stories are constantly breaking and updated in print and on a variety of digital and mobile platforms.
The newspaper has transformed itself many times throughout history. Yet while the look, content and business model regularly evolve with society, one thing has stayed constant: Our hunger for immediate, accurate news and information and newspapers’ ability to deliver just that. Newspapers are more relevant than ever before, for in the midst of the internet’s information age, we instinctively turn to newspaper content to provide trustworthy information and context. And that news frames our conversations and even actions throughout the day.
In other words, the impact of newspapers on a community, on our nation, just continues to multiply.
It starts with a reputation for great content. Newspapers are in the unique position to provide both the local stories that connect us as a community and the international news that creates an educated, responsible citizenry.
It’s no surprise, then, that readers both seek out this content and look to discuss and share it. The average newspaper’s pass-along rate is 2.12, which accounts for the copies spread out among office coworkers, read and re-read on public transportation and those picked up by other family members.
Today’s technology has only amplified this effect, providing a myriad of social media and digital platforms to widen the newspaper audience of all ages. Stories are now repeated, shared, discussed, emailed and texted countless times a day – with the opportunity to reach millions more readers than before.
This high-quality content, combined with an engaged readership of all ages, is exactly what continues to attract advertisers and lend credibility to their messages. We’re seeing gains in digital and bundled advertising as advertisers continue to seek out our readers’ interest and high engagement many different ways.
The newspaper industry is one that is constantly transforming. What was once a stone notice has become a ubiquitous paper product and an instantly accessible website or app. We’re still innovating and evolving with the times and technology today, and our content is more relevant and more needed than ever.
This is National Newspaper Week. As we celebrate the impact this business has on our communities and our country, I could not be more proud to be a part of this industry. Our future is bright, and I cannot wait to see what is ahead for the newspaper business.
First Published: October 10, 2013
About the Author
Caroline Little is the president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America. With nearly 30 years of experience as an executive in the newspaper industry, Caroline has been at the forefront of the industry’s evolution.
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