22 February 2013 Consumer Affairs Media Musings

Industry Insight: The end of print publishing

Does the start of 2013 mark the beginning of the end of the traditional newspaper? The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures out this week show that all national newspaper websites have reported bumper traffic growth for January 2013, with all sites posting double-digit month-on-month rises, with Mail Online hitting the record of just under 8 million daily unique browsers! That’s a rise of 13% in just one month. So is this the end of print publishing?

Are these figures just part of the seasonal cycle of news readership with January marking a large increase after a slow December? Is this increase caused by the particular stories which have been featured in the January news? Or, does this increase in online readership show us that more and more people are moving away from print publishing in favour of getting their daily news updates online on tablets, mobiles and even ereaders?

The big stories this January have included the US “fiscal cliff” crisis, Barack Obama’s inauguration, the Mali conflict and the Algerian hostage crisis, but are these stories really enough to account for such a large increase in online traffic, in some cases of up to 25%? It seems unlikely.

If these large increases in online readership do indicate a further move away from print publishing, is this such a bad thing? News is easily accessed online, any time of day, almost anywhere with the use of mobile phones, and a reader has the benefit of looking for further articles at different outlets if they find something that interests them. Surely this is better than paying for only one point of view? What do you think about the print publishing vs online debate?

Name of Online Newspaper % increase month-on-month from December to January Average daily unique browsers
The Mail Online 13% 7,977,039
Guardian.co.uk 17% 4,319,370
Telegraph.co.uk 11% 3,129,599
Sun.co.uk 16% 1,816,106
Mirror Group Digital 24% 1, 064,924
Independent.co.uk 25% 1,214,144
The London Evening Standard 45% 207,484

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