Small newspapers struggle to finance journalism

The Record Review is a small, weekly newspaper in central Wisconsin that covers a handful of small communities in the western Marathon County.  Small newspapers are struggling in a time of new technologies and quicker ways to find news.  News seekers can find news for free online in seconds as opposed to waiting the next day or even the next week for a newspaper to be published.  Newspapers make more money by selling ad space in their papers than they do with subscriptions.  The problem though is that with a declining readership comes declining income from subscriptions.  A decline in readership lowers the value on advertising space within their publications.  Many print news outlets are struggling with finding revenue.  Small markets like The Record Review and even larger papers like The Star-Tribune are facing these challenges.

In 2013, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism report found, in a survey of newspapers across the country, that for every dollar newspaper gains in digital ads from their websites, it loses up to $16 in newspaper print ads.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Christian Science Monitor, and Ann Arbor News are just a couple of examples of newspapers that have decided to go digital with an online presence only.  This could be the future of newspapers.

However, that same Pew Research report mentions several newspapers that are faring well in the digital age.  The report credits proper management, an ability to change with new technology, like establishing an online department, and a willingness to work with the resources that you already have as attributes of a newspaper company that will continue to print and deliver its news well into the future. The more flexible editors are with changing technology the stronger the newspapers seems to be. After all, what other options are available for newspapers to keep up a revenue stream in a free news world?  As for the local Record Review, it continues to do OK because it is the only official communication between small businesses, and local government and the community, as well as an outlet for the community itself to spread good and bad news alike.




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