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The decline continues

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  • My father used to buy a newspaper 7 days a week - he is now down to two. Most of the content of the weekday newspaper is appalling nonsense. Number of pages continues to decrease, as does quality of output. Meanwhile, price goes up. I wonder how many people under 65 buy a paper every day? Minuscule I suspect.




  • DrSerious3 wrote: »
    My father used to buy a newspaper 7 days a week - he is now down to two. Most of the content of the weekday newspaper is appalling nonsense. Number of pages continues to decrease, as does quality of output. Meanwhile, price goes up. I wonder how many people under 65 buy a paper every day? Minuscule I suspect.

    My Mother used to get one every day as well. She just gets the Irish Times on a Saturday now.

    I subscribe to stuff, patreon, some news magazines and am happy to pay for good content. I don't subscribe to an Irish publication or service though. It's just not good enough I'm afraid. It was never up to much really.




  • Anyway, the pertinent question for this thread is not why so many 'special advisor' are offered to former journalists but why so many journalists, even those in prominent roles, have been rushing to take up such positions in recent years. As Burns implies, it does seem to reflect a pervasive loss of confidence in the future of the profession...

    Well in that regard can you blame them? They know the end is nigh. ABC circ details are thin on the ground these days but basically all papers are down to less than half their all-time highs and many are pushing 75%+. Even the annual rate of decline was increasing into the double digits. And that was pre-covid.

    Print is finished by 2025 for literally every paper in Ireland. Local and national. The math just doesn't add up. There's still more consolidation and cuts and bits and pieces they can do to keep above water but they're walking dead and that's why the rats are fleeing the ship. Most can't sustain any transition to digital-only either. I expect only one or two will bridge that gap and even then they'll be a shadow of their former selves.

    This is a good thing. It needs to happen. These rags are utterly toxic now and there's not one single paper that is an exception to that. They all need to and will disappear and the "democracy" they so cherish will actually be the healthier for it.




  • Weekday papers will go a long time before weekend editions and weekly locals, I'd expect. Weekly local content does not actually exist anywhere else.




  • L1011 wrote: »
    Weekday papers will go a long time before weekend editions and weekly locals, I'd expect. Weekly local content does not actually exist anywhere else.

    It does: Facebook.

    Local paper circulation declines are in many cases worse than nationals and that's because local papers actually masqueraded for decades as vital, but in reality they're not and never were.

    Anything major that happened would be covered by national news (either RTE or any national weekday paper) and the rest was stuff that nobody but the people involved ultimately care about (local sports reporting, etc). It was mostly a social thing that got people to buy the paper. Your kid winning some school award and getting their pic in the paper, some couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and people at it being photographed. This kind of stuff all got usurped by facebook years ago. And people 50+ are all still on facebook and they are the demographic that were propping up local paper sales.

    When you actually go through a local paper and you strip out all the ads, tv listings, sport, horoscopes, or utterly trivial local things that nobody actually cares about (as evidenced by them not buying the paper anymore) - there's nothing much left. It was never essential. It was just people buying it to see if anybody they knew was in it that week. Local voyeurism.

    But then Facebook became the new way to indulge in that, and far more effectively too. Any local news was either trivial and boring, or big and thus covered more effectively by bigger national media.

    And the typical standard of writing and editing - shocking! Grammar mistakes and misspellings left and right. Clunky and disjointed. Awful stuff.

    One other reason for local news decline is the homogenisation of local areas across the country. Any distinct regional identity was far more common even just 10 years ago. But more and more, towns and villages are becoming less distinct and starting to resemble one another. Thank multiculturalism, globalism, increased transience and a general decline in social cohesion where people are, bit by bit, identifying less with their local town as a part of their identity. Obviously this process is only in its early stages still so it's not a massive factor, but it is a factor nonetheless imo.

    Local papers are all owned by 2 or 3 big companies too. Working off the same boring templates. They're not "local" anymore, at least not like they might once have been. And they all can't resist pushing the liberal progressive angle too. I see it in my own home town. Two papers owned by INM and Iconic (I think). So they take their marching orders from them editorially just like they all do. The opinion pieces are always the same predictable snark and signalling. I'm sure plenty lap it up, but I'm sure many also get turned off and quit buying it.

    They'll all go. The national dailies like the mirror, star, herald, etc will go first, but the local weeklies will be next and they'll fall nationwide in very rapid succession. Last to go will be the bigger dailies (independent/IT/etc).


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  • Fantastic analysis @J_M_G. The sole reason people bought the local paper years ago was for, as you say, local voyeurism. Nosiness really. Who got married this week, who made their confirmation, who was up in court for drink driving. This has of course all been replaced by Facebook with the added bonus that the busybodies can have their say and comment on the local gossip. Nobody was buying the local paper for Pulitzer Prize winning journalism.

    Regarding your second point about the homogenisation of local areas across the country: I couldn't agree more. About 5 years ago I got the urge to travel to different towns down the country and explore Ireland as I felt embarrassed I had lived here my entire life yet barely ventured beyond the Pale. What an eye opener it was, in a disappointing way. Paddypower, Dealz, Lidl, Polish shops, and Chinese takeaways...this is what modern Ireland looks like and every town is the same. You could be parachuted into Castlebar or Clonmel, Roscrea or Roscommon, and you wouldn't know the difference. Even regional accents are sadly disappearing. Pop into the local petrol station and you're more likely to be greeted by a stone faced Polish or Pakistani blow-in rather than a local character. I recommend John Water's "Give Us Back The Bad Roads" for a deeper analysis on the loss of regional flavours in Ireland.




  • coinop wrote: »
    Pop into the local petrol station and you're more likely to be greeted by a stone faced Polish or Pakistani blow-in rather than a local character. I recommend John Water's "Give Us Back The Bad Roads" for a deeper analysis on the loss of regional flavours in Ireland.

    Sweet Jesus.




  • One of the biggest mistakes made by the print media seems to have been to try targeting the permanently outraged demographic. Unfortunately, while they may be permanently outraged and take offence on behalf of others, they just don't buy newspapers. They are too busy voicing their outrage on Facebook/Twitter/WhatsApp etc. :)

    Regards...jmcc




  • J_M_G wrote: »
    It does: Facebook.

    Facebook doesn't get the court reports; or all the local sports results in one place. What you get is a disjointed mess of gossip, usually tinged with the rants of whoever posted it.

    My local paper is still an independent, not one of the groups. Stack that's delivered weekly would be larger than the six days together of any one of the other papers.




  • I actually miss reading physical newspapers, so I have upgrade my Irish Times subscription to also include delivering a Saturday news paper. I'm looking forward to my first issue.


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  • 'The Decline Continues' is actually my favourite thread in Boards. I don't know why that is. Very knowledgeable posters maybe!




  • J_M_G wrote: »
    Well in that regard can you blame them? They know the end is nigh. ABC circ details are thin on the ground these days but basically all papers are down to less than half their all-time highs and many are pushing 75%+. Even the annual rate of decline was increasing into the double digits. And that was pre-covid.

    Print is finished by 2025 for literally every paper in Ireland. Local and national. The math just doesn't add up

    Well in the long run we are all dead but I'd be hesitant about predicting imminent armageddon for the newspaper industry. After all, people have been talking about it as a dying industry since the turn of the century but it's still hanging in there. I used to wonder why the Daily Mail bothered with an Irish edition when all they could manage was to hold circulation steady at 50K but they're on less than half that now and no sign of them quitting the market. When the Sunday Tribune closed I was sure another few national papers would be following them out the door in short order bit that's nearly a decade ago now...




  • I've read the Irish Times for years and though far From perfect they seem the closest to journalists. Certainly the level of errors and vacuous articles has increased and will speed their demise. My real worry is with the loss of journalism what will fill the void, a dystopic Trumpian future where we are fed complete lies seems the only outcome.
    Another way to look at it would be to ask how can we support independent investigative journalists? I really do not have an answer but this should be a priority.




  • L1011 wrote: »
    What you get is a disjointed mess of gossip, usually tinged with the rants of whoever posted it.
    A good description of almost every opinion column in Irish newspapers. The newspapers and Facebook are not really that far apart.

    Regards...jmcc




  • work wrote: »
    I've read the Irish Times for years and though far From perfect they seem the closest to journalists. Certainly the level of errors and vacuous articles has increased and will speed their demise. My real worry is with the loss of journalism what will fill the void, a dystopic Trumpian future where we are fed complete lies seems the only outcome.
    Another way to look at it would be to ask how can we support independent investigative journalists? I really do not have an answer but this should be a priority.

    A lot of people feel that the current media has been bought and paid for for some time and dont really care that they will be gone.




  • When the Sunday Tribune closed I was sure another few national papers would be following them out the door in short order bit that's nearly a decade ago now...
    You are missing the business angle. The Sunday Tribune was a loss-making operation but its real objective was to act as a deterrent to the Irish Times launching a Sunday edition and to keep the Sunday Times in check. It was supported by IN&M. The IT launched its Saturday edition which is essentially a Sunday edition and sells (or used to) on Sunday as well.

    Regards...jmcc




  • dulpit wrote: »
    Sweet Jesus.

    Where's the lie?

    Anyway, I'll refrain from making this thread even more political than I already have. Let's get back to focusing on celebrating the ongoing demise of the print media! ;)




  • Well in the long run we are all dead but I'd be hesitant about predicting imminent armageddon for the newspaper industry. After all, people have been talking about it as a dying industry since the turn of the century but it's still hanging in there. I used to wonder why the Daily Mail bothered with an Irish edition when all they could manage was to hold circulation steady at 50K but they're on less than half that now and no sign of them quitting the market. When the Sunday Tribune closed I was sure another few national papers would be following them out the door in short order bit that's nearly a decade ago now...


    Yeah it's true that people had been expecting many to disappear by this point but I think they underestimate just how big their margins were, and just how much fat they have/had to trim. You do run into a wall of fixed costs eventually, but it is remarkable how long a company can survive on seemingly nothing but fumes.

    It's interesting to peer into the financials of some of the big public publishers like Reach (god even their name is dumb :rolleyes:) or DMGT in the UK. In the last few years, many have actually increased their circ revenue, despite seeing total sales decline. Simply just increasing the price by a bigger % than they lost the previous year. The problem is that although this creates a vicious cycle of further loss in circulation from price elastic buyers, there's an additional problem that I think is starting to appear very recently. Once you get into the €3+ range, I suspect it's a psychological barrier that will really shed buyers. And many papers, local especially, are getting to that point. Most are already in the €2.50-3.50 range. I think once they're forced to bump the price to the €4+ mark they'll hemorrhage what remains of the customer base. And then it's over.




  • It was always about the margin. Just to retreat a bit the Sunday Trib was saddled with debt, big ticket on that paper at the time. So INM used it to block the Sunday Times and cash strip the business.
    Locals - the last regional sold to INM was the Sligo Champion, for €25m! Who knew!

    I bang on about this (and for those that are glazing over - forgive me) and why some papers still throw themselves prostrate on the shelves every day to tease the passerby.

    The Guardian, at the till, will take an estimated €1.85m this year from the RoI. Take 45% of that in vat and retail margin margin, take a further 15% for disruption and 25% for printing etc. they will take about €320K for doing nothing! No plate changes, no marketing, not sod all!
    I'd lie back and think of Blighty for three large!




  • J_M_G wrote: »
    Where's the lie?

    Anyway, I'll refrain from making this thread even more political than I already have. Let's get back to focusing on celebrating the ongoing demise of the print media! ;)

    The immigrants who live here just want to earn enough to pay for rent/mortgage, household bills and to send their kids to school, so blaming them for the decline of provincial towns, when often they help to keep teacher numbers and community organisations healthy, is a bit rich. No, blame planners for taking footfall out of town centres through suburban shopping complexes, and online websites for diverting commerce from local independent stores.


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  • J_M_G wrote: »
    Yeah it's true that people had been expecting many to disappear by this point but I think they underestimate just how big their margins were, and just how much fat they have/had to trim. You do run into a wall of fixed costs eventually, but it is remarkable how long a company can survive on seemingly nothing but fumes.

    Exactly. The advent of the "ghost newspaper" has "saved" newspapers but only in name. Many newspapers are a relic of their former self. Content is increasingly taken from newswires, taken from other publications in enlarged media groups (often from the UK) and in some cases taken from bots. There is little original investigative high quality content left. Page numbers, article counts and the number of journalists have all decreased significantly.

    Newspapers are kept alive thanks to hiking cover prices, habitual elderly purchases, government advertising, supermarket advertising and never ending cuts.

    In many cases, sales are down 70% but the show still goes on. Can't think of any other industry where this would be the case.

    You can drive content costs down to near-zero. You can drive printing costs down as you reduce size. Distribution costs are 'fixed' but as more shops choose not to sell newspapers distribution costs will decline.

    The show will go on for the ghost newspapers for some time to come if they manage costs correctly.

    On the positive side, The Irish Times will have a bright digital only future. The Indo will probably have a digital only future. But difficult to see much light beyond that.




  • IRE60 wrote: »
    It was always about the margin. Just to retreat a bit the Sunday Trib was saddled with debt, big ticket on that paper at the time. So INM used it to block the Sunday Times and cash strip the business.

    I was (vaguely) aware of all that but IMO the point about the Tribune is that it was making (significant?) losses on a circulation of IIRC 60K+ at the time it closed. The roughly comparable Sunday Business Post was the last time I checked selling not much more than a third of that yet is somehow still breathing...




  • The immigrants who live here just want to earn enough to pay for rent/mortgage, household bills and to send their kids to school, so blaming them for the decline of provincial towns, when often they help to keep teacher numbers and community organisations healthy, is a bit rich.

    [deleted due to it being baseless, off-topic ranting]

    EDIT: It most certainly was not baseless or off-topic. And calling it a "rant" is just you poisoning the well.

    But the fact remains, their presence IS changing the makeup of towns all across the nation. Culturally, politically, socially, linguistically, religiously. In ways big and small. This is an empirical fact. This causes the identity of a town to get blown out. To literally become "diverse". Diverse means no majority or pre-eminent culture or consistent expectation of ways of being and interacting with your community. So it's understandable that this would cause, on average, people to identify less with "their town" and by extension, with what's going on within it. Aka, local news.

    So we don't buy our local paper because... well why bother? We don't recognize it as reflecting "us" anymore. Because there is no "us". So hello declining newspaper sales.

    Now before anyone strawmans any of that, I think it's actually a fairly minor reason for the decline of local newspaper sales. It's a factor, but also well down the list of reasons. The main reason is that Facebook took over the social and voyeuristic element, the quality of writing is atrocious, the price too high (and rising), the internet took the jobs ads, the real estate listings and increasingly the obituries, and nobody actually cares about some random guy you don't know who was up in district court and got a €30 fine for not picking up his dog's poop.
    No, blame planners for taking footfall out of town centres through suburban shopping complexes, and online websites for diverting commerce from local independent stores.

    I don't disagree with any of this. But please don't get me started on the midwits known as local council planning committees or I'll derail this thread for good :o




  • JTMan wrote: »
    Exactly. The advent of the "ghost newspaper" has "saved" newspapers but only in name. Many newspapers are a relic of their former self. Content is increasingly taken from newswires, taken from other publications in enlarged media groups (often from the UK) and in some cases taken from bots. There is little original investigative high quality content left. Page numbers, article counts and the number of journalists have all decreased significantly.
    It used to be funny to see the Polly Filla and Phil Space "technology" journalists doing this kind of stuff with articles that were basically rehashes of something from Wired or some other US publication back in the day. Since then, the costs have made it much cheaper to use wire content. It was evident that the whole newspaper business was drifting towards using filler while cutting back on original content.
    On the positive side, The Irish Times will have a bright digital only future. The Indo will probably have a digital only future. But difficult to see much light beyond that.
    The Irish Times sold off its ireland.com domain name. That was a category killer domain name and it then rebranded as "irishtimes.com" to ape the New York Times. The reality is that it is a provincial newspaper with delusions of grandeur. Like most provincial newspapers, it has a geographically limited audience. The Independent's idea of what constitutes premium content is a bit of a laugh. At the heart of the problem for both newspapers is the fact that the opinion columnists are generally the first to go behind the paywall. That actually loses readers and sends the readership of the opinion columnists into a tailspin because they no longer have the audience and people have to pay for what was once free. I'm not sure that the IT has such a bright digital future given that it has a track record of disaster (apart from the sale of Ireland.com) on the Web.

    The Independent seems to be trying to pull a race to the bottom with pricing. This is similar to what Murdoch did with the Redtops in the UK but it may not be effective with the Independent.

    Regards...jmcc




  • jmcc wrote: »
    I'm not sure that the IT has such a bright digital future given that it has a track record of disaster (apart from the sale of Ireland.com) on the Web.

    The Independent seems to be trying to pull a race to the bottom with pricing. This is similar to what Murdoch did with the Redtops in the UK but it may not be effective with the Independent.

    Regards...jmcc

    Not to mention they both have very suspicious claims about their true subscription numbers. "Inflated" is putting it mildly.

    I don't actually think either will bridge the digital gap in the long-run enough to survive. Monsters like the NYT will (plus WaPo, WSJ and maybe one or two others). But none of the irish papers will make it. RTE will be subsidised by the state and provide any relevant national news coverage. All the rest is opinion or investigative and will be done for zero cost and more effectively by aspiring indie journalists with a twitter account and a patreon page. It's already happening.




  • Please stick to the topic of the decline of traditional media and avoid using this thread to spout your uninformed assumptions about people.




  • flogen wrote: »
    Please stick to the topic of the decline of traditional media and avoid using this thread to spout your uninformed assumptions about people.

    It was highly relevant to the discussion of traditional media decline and I can assure you I am far from uninformed on the topic. Your bias is showing. But I'll refrain from explicitly political commentary.




  • J_M_G wrote: »
    Not to mention they both have very suspicious claims about their true subscription numbers. "Inflated" is putting it mildly.
    The problem is not with the true subscription figures but in the lack of analysis and breakdown of those figures. Say a well known paper claims that it has 58K digital subscriptions. That may well be true. But the breakdown of those subscriptions can provide indications of the money made from the subscriptions. How many were one day/weekly subscriptions? How many were introductory offers that were not taken up? How many were annual subscriptions? The real blood trail statistic is the number of new subscriptions versus the number of dropped subscriptions.

    Regards...jmcc




  • jmcc wrote: »
    The problem is not with the true subscription figures but in the lack of analysis and breakdown of those figures. Say a well known paper claims that it has 58K digital subscriptions. That may well be true. But the breakdown of those subscriptions can provide indications of the money made from the subscriptions. How many were one day/weekly subscriptions? How many were introductory offers that were not taken up? How many were annual subscriptions? The real blood trail statistic is the number of new subscriptions versus the number of dropped subscriptions.

    Regards...jmcc

    Right. When they don't break out the details in the quarterly reports, I think it's fair to assume the quality of those subs is not the highest.


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  • The main problem with the Irish Times sub numbers is the sub numbers include free student subs without breaking this out. That said, it is crystal clear that IT digital subs are growing at an impressive rate and on a sustained basis.

    Meanwhile, the Guardian have an article entitled 'Local journalism is on its knees' today here.


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