Many readers of Detroit’s two major newspapers likely missed a snippet of information that was recently disclosed. The announcement read like an obituary:
The price of a Sunday newspaper in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, effective today, July 1st, will now be $2.00 per copy. Prices in the outlying counties had been $2.00 per copy since October 2009.
Now I understand why my recent renewal went up to $96.00 for six months when I received the notice on June 25th.
Fewer daily newspapers are sold today than in 1960 despite a 50% increase in the U.S. population. The rapid rate of decline in newspaper readership will ensure the elimination of newspapers as a media outlet. The success that American newspapers have enjoyed for decades is over. Newspapers are in a perilous state due to the decline of readership and circulation. When a newspaper disappears, as many as half the subscribers don’t turn to a different newspaper. Newspapers are being replaced by television news and the Internet.
People are not buying the newspaper because the Internet, radio and television have taken the concept of breaking news away from the newspaper industry. The emergence of 24 hour news has made the newspaper appear antiquated and unreliable. When an event happens at midnight or 3:00 AM, we turn to CNN or sign onto our Internet provider to be informed. By the time the newspaper is bought or delivered in the morning, the news is stale. If newspaper decline continues, the medium of newspapers will become obsolete. This means a loss of jobs for people in a $54 billion dollar industry as well as the conclusion of a vital and educational news medium. The loss of newspapers will be profound on many levels.
The total average daily circulation of the Detroit News declined 5.6% to 133,506 for the year ending March 31, 2012. The daily circulation of the Detroit Free Press also declined 5.5% to 232,696 for the same period. To offset the rising costs of paper which has risen 40% in the last three years, newspapers are implementing smaller printed editions as well as a reduction in the actual size of the paper itself. The new domestic Wall Street Journal went from 15 inches wide to about 12 inches wide but remained at 22 ¾ inches long. More papers are considering a lighter paper stock. Of course, the price of the newspaper continues to rise.
The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press became the first major metropolitan newspapers in the U.S. to end daily home delivery in the Spring of 2009. The publisher of the Detroit Free press and CEO of the Detroit Media Partnership, a Mr. David Hunke said, “We are fighting for our survival” when the announcement was made. The daily newspapers went from $0.35 cents a copy in 2003 to $0.50 cents. Beginning October 5th of 2009, the price of the daily edition was raised to $1.00 per copy.
Unfortunately, each time that the Detroit Media Partnership makes a change in price or scheduling, an accompanying decline in circulation occurs. I equate this to our colleges who find themselves in the same situation as fewer students create a demand for higher tuition. Where will it end? There is no doubt that more newspapers will close or reduce publication in the coming years. They cannot compete with the Internet and the seemingly endless 24 hour news stations. It is kind of sad in a way as the newspapers are going the way of the telephone land line.