Newspapers as Niche News Providers

This post by Jim Horton at Online Public Relations Thoughts makes an interesting follow-on to my last post on the decline of newspapers.

The story Mr. Horton references adds even more evidence of the print implosion going on. But his point that "newspapers are fast becoming a niche medium" is the one that hits home: (This is the full text of his post.)

"This is interesting. Newspapers have finally recognized that they are no longer mass media and are cutting back to a core of readers willing to pay for the paper daily. In other words, newspapers are fast becoming a niche medium, no longer powerful but catering to what is probably an older crowd. This means, of course, that newsrooms will continue to shrink and coverage as well until a balance between cost and revenue is achieved. The hard task for newspapers is not to cut too much. The New York Times, for example, is in the middle of newsroom buyouts and lost some of its well-known business reporters in the last few days. Who will replace them? No one.

In PR, we have seen this coming for a couple of years and as practitioners we have been shifting away from newspapers for some time. The problem is that in some areas like business news, there is nowhere else to go. There are no independent blog sites for business news that have become prominent like Politico for political news. Business news blog sites are associated with the same mainstream media that are cutting back. It is a challenge for corporate PR that will only become larger."

There is a shortage of reliable and trustworthy social media alternatives for business news and analysis. Yes, there are dozens of financial and market-watching blogs, online newsletters for the investment industry, and an assortment of kvetchers, but as far as I know no credible news alternatives to the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times of London or the New York Times business pages (at least for the time being).

Until that gap is filled, it will be difficult to convince some organizations of the value of social media-driven communications strategies, although as Mr. Horton points out there may be little choice if business reporters become extinct.

Does the Web Make Democracy Safer?

Print Backsliding - Cause for Worry?