Wednesday, October 3, 2012

University of Missouri survey finds that newspaper publishers are feeling 'a sense of urgency to embrace digital platforms' but remain optimistic about their industry

A survey conducted by the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Reynolds Journalism Institute at MU found that newspaper publishers are generally optimistic about their industry, though are feeling pressure to move forward with new digital platforms.

Michael Jenner, the Houston Harte Endowed Chair at the University of Missouri School of Journalism presented his findings at the annual conferences of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association and New England Newspaper and Press Association. The survey consisted of interviews with the newspaper executives from more than 450 daily newspapers in the U.S.
Michael Jenner

According to the survey, only 4 percent of respondents were not optimistic about the future of the newspaper industry, either proving that they know something others don't, or that denial is the way newspaper execs make it through their day.

While recognizing that circulation and advertising declines were big threats to newspapers today, Jenner also pointed out reservations about recent cutbacks.

"More than 40 percent of publishers viewed declining resources as a serious threat to their publications," Jenner said. “With the poor economy, many newspapers have been forced to implement large cuts to their staffs in recent years. This makes it very difficult for papers to innovate and develop new revenue models, particularly in the digital sphere. If newspapers want to survive in their current form, they are going to have to find ways to maintain enough resources to find new forms of revenue."

According to the survey, newspaper publishers are expecting digital to provide needed revenue gains, with 90 percent expecting increases to be generated in the next year.

"Publishers are definitely feeling a sense of urgency to embrace digital platforms," Jenner said. "Even though most publishers see a future in printed newspapers, most know that digital platforms, such as websites and mobile applications, are where the potential for increased revenue exists."