Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Death of Print - 12,000 Layoffs And Counting

"Print is Dead" - Dr. Egon Spengler, New York City, 1984

It has been a long time coming, and in my opinion will never happen, but the move toward a 'Paperless Society' is plodding along.

According to preliminary figures released this week by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, circulation for 507 daily US newspapers fell 4.64 percent in the six months to September to 38.16 million copies.

Where are all the readers going?

Take, for instance, The Christian Science Monitor. The CSM is financed by an endowment from the First Church of Christ, Scientists, is delivered to its readers via "snail mail". It has always been published Monday through Friday - and operates at a loss.

As of April 2009, the CSM will halt its print magazine and be available exclusively online.

As the first major periodical to cease its print operations, other large media sources will be keeping an eye on the CSM to see how this radical shift works.

The Monitor, which celebrates its 100th anniversary on Nov. 25, and is attempting to get ahead of the latest trend in print media - losing readers and circulation.

What I find interesting, separate of religious standing, the magazine is not moving in this direction to make more profit, but to reach new readers.

Also, today, I learned that all Condé Nast publishers and editors have been told to cut their staffs and budgets by 5 percent within weeks.

It will affect every title, including the company's most successful: The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, Glamour and down the line. And I just started getting my new subscription to Wired.

If you look at the trend, newspapers are laying off and have been for the past few years. As a matter of fact, according to the Graphic Designr blog, so far this year, over 12,000 newspaper jobs have been cut. Check out this super-duper map.

Those in the non-print media claim it's because the "liberal" print message is finally exposed and readers are responding by tuning into TV and Radio more - convenient, but misleading.

I think its Generational not political.

To illustrate, I was talking with my father this past week - my parents were staying with us for a few days. It is his morning ritual to read the newspaper - every, single, morning.

I argued with him, ", the news you are reading is like, 12 hours old...its already gone and there is something new happening right now..." - this did not phase him in the least - I spark up Drudge and get my morning dose.

Statistics show that baby boomers (those between 44 and 62), are the largest demographic of loyal print readers in the U.S. The only group that boasts a higher percentage in readership is people over the age of 62.

According to an August report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, the percentage of those who say they had read a newspaper on a given day has dropped from 50% in 1998 to 34% in 2008.

But the boomers and older readers still dominate that newspaper audience, with 31% of those between 35 and 49 reading the paper daily, 40% of those between 50 and 64, and 55% of those 65 and older. Only 15% of respondents under 25 were among the daily newspaper readers.

And not be rude or insensitive, but, the demographic who still reads paper-based, does have an expiration date - palms today may turn red later, but ultimately, they still turn red.

So What? - What does this have to do with people who sell Managed Print Services, copiers and printers?

If you're insightful, you already know.

Here's the deal-

Our end-users are going to be more demanding in terms of how they want information presented to them - manila folders, stapled copies, and slide show handouts are going to be replaced by laptops screens, .PDFs and email attachments.

And before you start arguing the point in your head, I am not speaking of today's users as much as the users to come, the ones in 12th grade today- the ones who need to Wiki "Star Trek - The Next Generation"and don't remember Cylons as "shinny", metal robots.

These are the users who will make the prophetic Dr. Spengler's words reality, again.

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