Would you pay to read this?


Would you pay to read this? As you read this, there are literally hundreds of other ways you could be getting your news, facts and opinions. Every day millions of people pick up a newspaper and pore over its column inches, but that number is falling.

In 1980, The Daily Telegraph saw circulation numbers at around 1.4 million, The Sun a few years later in 1987 was pulling in nearly 4 million readers, The Times in 1997 went out to 1 million people and The Daily Mirror was read by 3.8 million in 1975. Yet these numbers, from sources such as The Press Gazette and Mass Media, take a sharp nose-dive in more recent years.

The general attitude seems to be, why pay for something you can obtain for free? Now, with most newspapers online and thousands of websites offering up-to-date articles and comments you get much more out of the internet than from a daily paper. Also, a contributing factor is the instantaneous coverage and views expressed on television, by 24-hour news channels and current affairs shows.

As all of you will have noticed, The Saint is a free newspaper, but the question is, would you be willing to pay for it? Is it worth £1.25, 75p, or even 20p surely? Change the price all you want, the principle stands, and the numbers speak for themselves. The Sun now reaches 3 million people, The Times only 500,000, The Daily Mirror is now at 1 million and The Daily Telegraph is now read by 690,000. So across the board we see a decline, more evident amongst the broadsheets than the tabloids.

Increasingly, just to break even, print journalists are becoming simply writers scrawling on the back of advertisements. However, as the circulation numbers drop, the advertisers are pulling out, and with them, their money.

Yet what is to be done? Will the very profession of newspaper journalism disappear, to be replaced by TV stars and internet bloggers? However, all hope is not lost.

The Daily is a new paper which will not in fact be on paper at all. It will be available for the moment exclusively on the iPad as an e-newspaper. The reader will pay a subscription of only $0.99/week, and the paper will be delivered wirelessly to their device every morning. I can attest to the brilliance of e-newspapers as I have an Amazon Kindle, and through that, I can get subscriptions (although at a much higher price than The Daily, around £9.99/month) to many of the leading UK newspapers. Every morning, there they are, waiting on my Kindle; so easy. All the same articles as the print version, and all for a much cheaper price, as there is no infrastructure of printing and transport to sort out.

While this is still a growing market and we have yet to see what the effects will be, initial numbers look good, with sales of subscriptions increasing steadily. Could this be the saviour of print media?

Why not sell e-papers as a sort of premium news medium, in much the same way that bottled water has created a market, despite nearly free water being available to consumers. With these new papers on the cusp of technology, the market has taken a huge leap forward and this may just be the right direction, even if it does cost 33p an issue.

Malcolm Canvin


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