U.S. Print Media Vs. Social: Loyalty To Tradition

Categories: 

Tags: 

When back in Russia, I struggle to remember when had bought a paper - on a newsprint - in a news stand last time: like everywhere in Europe, computers and smartphones have become a main carrier for news, substituting traditional formats.

European publications have been alarmed by diminishing circulation against the backdrop of growing competition with social media. They hope to sustain the conventional format and preserve revenues by building paywalls. Newspaper circulation in Europe declined 4 per cent in 2013 compared with a year earlier, and this result reflects a cumulative 22 per cent drop in the past five years, according to WAN-IFRA, the global organisation of the world’s press (http://goo.gl/gwFLd1).

But here in Minnesota the press professionals seem to be less worried about the global trend.

“We do not consider social media as competitors,’’ says Duchesne Drew, Managing Editor for Operations at Star Tribune, Minneapolis - the largest community newspaper with a 147 year history.

Star Tribune is a printed daily with more than 300.000 copies per week day and about half of million copies on weekends.

Social media penetration in North America - 56 percent in January 2014 - outpaced Western Europe with its 44 percent, according to We Are Social media research agency (http://goo.gl/PtJHjH)

Mr. Drew says that online version of Star Tribune is a tool in extending its ability to provide an information on a 24/7 basis and incorporate video news in it, and that the publication’s accounts in social networks are exceptionally useful on promoting the brand and stories.

But for readers and advertisers it is, first of all, a printed media, aimed at a local audience which has been accustomed to have a fresh community newspaper every morning.

COMMUNITY ASSET

“The starting point is: Americans don’t care about international news,” says Brendan Henehan, an Executive Producer at affairs show on Minneapolis’s TPT channel, which is partially funded through pledges of viewers, just like the Star Tribune is supported by its subscribers.

That is a part of tradition formed by the First Amendment: Americans consider themselves responsible for contributing a share in keeping the press free and properly functioning - and in the same manner.

“We see community journalism as community asset,” says Andrew Wallmeyer, who has left his position of a senior associate at the strategic consulting firm McKinsey & Co to become a publisher at MinnPost. The online nonprofit enterprise (http://www.minnpost.com/) is funded mainly through membership, foundation grants and donations, and declares its mission as providing "high-quality journalism for news-intense people who care about Minnesota".

“And if you ask me who has been MinnPost largest competitors I would say - Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio,” adds Mr. Wallmeyer, speaking about a strong rivalry in the Midwestern state, which 5,3 million population has been one of nation’s leaders in terms of voter participation (http://goo.gl/3Etuq8).

“I love to read our newspaper," says Mark, a subscriber to The Pioneer Press in his fifties and a father of three.

But younger generations seem to challenge the tradition of ancestors.

“I would never subscribe for local press”, says Michael, 28, a health care professional.