As News Consumers Age, Newspapers Continue Death March

I was shocked earlier this week when someone told me about a 39-year-old person who reads the newspaper every morning. I’m 40, and I haven’t picked up a newspaper in … well, I can’t really remember. I tried to rationalize by imagining that this person must look at each article and say, “I saw that on TV last night,” or “I already read that online.”

The reality is that a person in their 30s reading a daily paper is in a vast minority. Pew Research center reports that only 27% of Americans in 2013 35-44 read a newspaper, and not necessarily every day. That number has been on a consistent decline since its much larger 52% in 2002. The number drops to 20% as age skews to 18-24.

That’s the indisputable data. Here’s evidence of that data in today’s society:

A few weeks ago, I attended a fundraising gala for the American Heart Association in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. I spent a good amount of time at the silent auction tables during the event. As the evening went on, and bidding got higher and more competitive, I snapped this photo.

American Heart Association 2015 Silent Auction, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
American Heart Association 2015 Silent Auction, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

The item up for bid was a one-year subscription to the (Scranton) Times-Tribune. No one had bid on it.

The reality is that to which I alluded above: When a newspaper hits your doorstep, its content is already old news. It was available on television and online as it happened. Pew reports that television and internet (including mobile) are the top two sources of news for U.S. adults. These are the media that are immediate and timely.

So, how do newspapers survive? How do they adapt? Here’s a thought.

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