As Newspapers Die in America, They Burgeon in Other Countries


From this week’s Economist:

It may not be much consolation to the hard-pressed hacks of the rich world, but in many developing countries the newspaper business is booming. According to figures released in June by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), an industry body based in Paris, newspaper sales in Brazil increased by some 12% last year. Over the past five years, circulation has gone up by more than 22%. In India, sales rose by 11%, bringing the five-year increase to more than 35%. Pakistan’s newspaper market grew by almost as much in the same period. The trend is similar elsewhere in Asia and Latin America.

The demand for news tends to go up as people enter the workforce, earn more money, invest it and so begin to feel that they have more of a stake in their society. Literacy rates also rise in tandem with wealth. For the newly literate, flipping through a newspaper in public is a potent and satisfying symbol of achievement.

Newspapers are doing well in middle-income countries, too, according to WAN. In Argentina, for example, newspaper circulation jumped more than 7% last year. Manuel Mora y Araujo, of IPSOS, a consultancy, says media groups from America and other rich countries have not been investing in Argentine news organisations, possibly because their own problems mean that they cannot afford to. Nonetheless, he says, “The press isn’t worried—there’s tons of advertising.”

Shout out to the American print media
: You may be dying, but the rest of the world isn’t joining you.

I ponder:

–Is there a correlation between the decline of America’s newspapers and the literacy of its own citizens?
–Is reading a newspaper in public a sign of achievement or backwardness?
–How will Internet publishing evolve to replace newspapers? Or will it? As a blogger, I wonder how our little insta-publishing industry will ultimately scale.


–How much it would cost to invest in a small Argentinian newspaper?

  • Over the last years several new newspapers have been launched in Buenos Aires (Perfil, Crítica, Sur, El Argentino) but I don’t see it as a great industry to be in. Most of those sell only a few thousand papers daily. Perfil and Sur are weekend-only, El Argentino is a free paper (which doesn’t abide by the same rules as the paid dailies). Furthermore, Sur and El Argentino are actually closer to propaganda than journalism (they’re financed by a shady media group which regularly favors the Kirchner family).

    Meanwhile, the large Buenos Aires dailies are selling less. Clarín sold around 380,000 daily papers on average weekdays last year, which hadn’t happened in decades. And we’re talking about a paper published by an enormous media conglomerate including top-rated radios and TV stations (both air and cable) in a city with a population of 9 million, which also gets national distribution. La Nación, Clarín’s closest competitor, sells just around 150,000. I don’t see those numbers as a fertile market. Maybe smaller provincial towns with less internet connections might be a better place for newspapers, but Buenos Aires isn’t much different from large first world cities.