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Are Newspapers Dying?

This topic has finally evolved from newspapers bemoaning their own demise to a real conversation into what is the true state of newspapers and what is needed for the future.

The good news is that news content is being read more than ever. So what’s the problem? The 20th century business model for newspapers is simply not working in the 21st century.

Newspapers that I work with have been very successful in raising sponsorship and school subscription revenue for their Newspaper In Education programs. So successful, in fact, that the newspapers are raising the price of their NIE newspapers in order to bring more of that revenue to the bottom line.

Evidence shows that a well-positioned and professionally crafted NIE program can be a significant revenue stream for a newspaper. So, the lesson is? Look to NIE as part of the viable business model for the newspaper of the 21st century!

But don’t take my word for it—read on…

Walter Issacson’s recent cover-story in Time Magazine provides hope and direction.

During the past few months, the crisis in journalism has reached meltdown proportions. It is now possible to contemplate a time when some major cities will no longer have a newspaper and when magazines and network-news operations will employ no more than a handful of reporters.

There is, however, a striking and somewhat odd fact about this crisis. Newspapers have more readers than ever. Their content, as well as that of newsmagazines and other producers of traditional journalism, is more popular than ever – even (in fact, especially) among young people.

More popular with young people? I would venture to say that the years of growth in our NIE programs has and is paying off!

Watch Isaacson and Jon Stewart discuss the future of newspapers.

Newspapers are Fact-Checked, Hand-Delivered, No Pop-up Ads – What’s Not to Love?

In his last moments as editor of USA Today before moving to the No. 2 spot at the Newseum, Ken Paulson offered his insights at the inauguration of the National Press Club’s new president. Paulson congratulated the Club for choosing Donna Leinwand as its leader for 2009 and discussed the situation of the newspaper industry. This column is reprinted from the Web site of the National Press Club.

I do think there’s room for some perspective. Yes, it’s true that there have been significant layoffs at America’s newspapers, but there have also been huge layoffs at Home Depot, and no one is predicting the demise of hammers.

You have to separate the troubled economy from the special challenges facing the news industry, and it’s important that we not undervalue the power of print.

I can certainly understand why newspapers are not viewed as trendy. After all, they were really the iPods of 1690.

But humor me, and consider this alternate history: Imagine if Gutenberg had invented a digital modem rather than a printing press, and that for centuries all of our information had come to us online.

Further, imagine if we held a press conference announcing the invention of an intriguing new product called the “newspaper.”

Advertising Age reports that it is NOT newspapers that are in peril; it’s their owners!

NEW YORK (—For all the apocalyptic news about newspapers, there’s a distinction worth making: Newspaper owners are far more endangered than the medium itself.

Even as they take blow after blow from recession and digital media, newspapers themselves still earn decent profits. They do even better outside big cities, which tend to get all the attention.

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