News & Opinion

Why print news still deserves the spotlight

Why print news still deserves the spotlight

Despite a changing media landscape, print newspapers offer a sense of clarity and command a particularly high degree of engagement. On the days that people read their newspapers, they spend an average of 70 minutes with them. Another bonus: print advertising is free of ad-blocking.

In recent weeks, there seems to have been a renewed appreciation of the power of print to engage readers, influence opinions, and provide a favourable context for advertisers.

First, the i celebrated its fifth birthday on October 26, which prompted its owner, Evgeny Lebedev, to reflect on the growth of Britain’s youngest national newspaper:

“What this paper does is edit the world for you,” wrote Lebedev, who believes the i’s price, interactivity with readers, and mixture of concision and quality has led to its popularity with readers. While the idea of launching a low-priced and concise newspaper looks “like genius now,” he admits that, at the time, it “seemed for a while like a modern kind of madness.”

Joining Lebedev in birthday tributes, The Observer’s Peter Preston applauded the title for defying its doubters and quickly establishing itself as “an innovative campaigning paper,” while London Mayor Boris Johnson declared: “Farewell to the gloomsters who said i wouldn’t work – here’s to the power of print.” 

Taking into account i’s success, along with that of its fellow ESI Media title, the London Evening Standard, Roy Greenslade believes that “these two 21st-century press experiments illustrate the enduring strength of news print,” pointing out that people “do not have to pay 40p [US$0.61] for i and they are not compelled to pick up copies of the Standard. They do so because they want to read the content.”

It’s the content, context, and influence of newspapers that make them stand out in the digitally driven, clickbait-consuming frenzy that is today’s news landscape.

Amongst all the noise, the verified journalism of newspapers provides a sense of clarity and assuredness while commanding high levels of engagement. It’s quite a challenge to multi-task when reading a newspaper, and the latest TouchPoints6 data shows that, on the days they read them, people spend an average of 70 minutes with their newspaper. That’s good news for newspapers and advertisers alike.

Writing for Media Week recently, James Wildman, Trinity Mirror Solution’s chief revenue officer, articulated these attributes perfectly and rallied against what he describes as “printism” – an unreasoned dislike, hostility, or antagonism toward, or discrimination against, print that isn’t based on reason or actual experience of the print medium.

“There are few – if any – media that can demand the sales attention of their audience in a trusted brand environment, provide a space and context where commercial messages are actively enjoyed, and genuinely influence the way people think and behave” he wrote. “Our readers know it is special, and it is time we remind ourselves of that too. With 36 million people reading a physical newspaper every month in the UK, my message to the media industry is: Don’t be a printist pariah.”

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