Former WaPo chief warns of ruin when advertisers 'wake up' and pull out of Print Media

Former WaPo chief warns of ruin when advertisers 'wake up' and pull out
BY PAUL BEDARD | OCTOBER 17, 2014 | 11:19 AM

A former executive editor of the Washington Post is warning of a massive shake out in print journalism once advertisers “wake up” to the reality that they are wasting money on newspaper and magazine advertising, not digital, where their audience is.

Robert G. Kaiser wrote for the Brookings Institution that print media, presumably including his former employer, is getting more than they should from advertisers and it won’t last much longer.

“Americans spend about five percent of the time they devote to media of all kinds to magazines and newspapers. But nearly 20 percent of advertising dollars still go to print media. So print media today are getting billions more than they probably deserve from advertisers,” he wrote.

“When those advertisers wake up, revenues will plummet still further,” warned Kaiser, editor from 1991-1998.

Of course, the shift is already happening. “This explains why even as newspaper revenues have plummeted, the ad revenue of Google has leapt upward year after year — from $70 million in 2001 to an astonishing $50.6 billion in 2013. That is more than two times the combined advertising revenue of every newspaper in America last year,” wrote Kaiser.

The result could be the end of some print outlets.

“The great institutions on which we have depended for news of the world around us may not survive. These are painful words to write for someone who spent 50 years as a reporter and editor at The Washington Post,” he wrote.

Kaiser detailed the economic plight of print: The WaPo lost $40 million last year, “Newsweek magazine failed, and Time magazine is teetering.”

Many media, including the Post, he said can be saved by billionaire benefactors, but not all.


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