Is the Print Media Upheaval a ‘Transition’ or the End?

The other day I caught an excellent blog post by Earl Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA (International Newsmedia Marketing Association), which offered an informative take on the rapid change that is occurring in the newspaper industry—just in the past 30 days.

Wilkinson chronicles several developments: the wholesale departures of media companies like Media General and Freedom from the industry; new players coming onto the scene, like Warren Buffet arriving as a “savior”; print editions disappearing—the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and Advance Alabama reducing their editions from seven days to three days; and general upheaval in the newspaper industry, such as CEO churn at a record pace and rampant rumors of upcoming ownership changes.

How does all of this affect the PR professional? Obviously, who gets pitched and how are important factors as more print newspaper editions disappear. Print journalists will need more help than ever as they see their colleagues go out the door with pink slips.

But the newspaper industry’s remake hit home with the June 25 announcement that Cision has sold its print monitoring operations to BurrellesLuce. In Cision’s press release announcing the sale, CEO Peter Granat said, “The market for print monitoring and news clipping services has been steadily contracting and consolidating as newspaper and magazine circulation has declined and readers have moved en masse to the Web. The sale will enable us to continue stepping up our software and digital investments to meet growing customer demand for online monitoring, research and analysis through Cision’s integrated PR workflow application.”

Granat’s statement is a thinly-veiled announcement that print is just about over. INMA’s Wilkinson, however, thinks that the upheaval is a “transition” that will work itself out. Whatever it signifies, this news makes me wonder about the future of printed newspapers specifically, and printed publications in general.

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01