World newspaper circulation map from How Stuff Works. A lot of room for growth.
There’s a lot in the news about how the news is dying. It isn’t true. Newspaper growth is booming worldwide, it’s just become a saturated industry in America. So, yes, US papers may have to close foreign offices. However, The Times of India could start setting up foreign offices there. Around 75 of the top selling newspapers are Asian and 70% of countries are reporting stable or increased circulation over 5 years. There are more newspapers being launched and many more people to be reached in Asia and Africa.
It’s almost become accepted that the media is dying, but that’s only the western media elite conflating itself with ‘the media’. Indian media is not dying, Chinese media is a very large zombie and Africa hasn’t even been tapped. If you want a media strategy, it’s basically as simple as going to the frontier. That’s where growth is, and where costs are low. Personally, I think a lot of western media salaries and budgets are bloated, especially for foreign correspondence. They’re never going to have things that good because it’s not necessary. They can do a better job for cheaper.
I’ve been reading this Columbia Report on how US newspapers are dying and how papers need to adapt to digital media to eke out an existence. Which is part of it. Most US business, however, has recovered from the recession by simply going abroad for manufacturing and sales – and profits. Even the movie industry now counts on international sales.
To quote the CEO of the World Association of Newspapers:
“Frankly, I have noticed a tendency amongst media journalists and commentators to dwell on the negative aspects of the business when it is clear there is much to be positive about,” said Christoph Riess, CEO of WAN-IFRA, who presented the report. (WAN, 2010)
Newspapers aren’t dying. They’re just moving. If the newspaper industry wants profits they have to move as well. Online yes, but also to Asia, Africa and emerging markets where growth is high.