The OECD dives into the future of journalism debate with a detailed report on readership, business models and policy implications. It’s not bad; not a huge amount of new news in it, but lots of good statistics and information about the news business in OECD countries – and particularly helpful in terms of giving a broader global perspective on what’s happening.
Did you know, for example, that while US newspapers rely on advertising for 87% of their revenue, on average, Japanese papers only depend on ads for 35% of revenue? (And UK papers split it 50-50 between ad and circulation dollars). That speaks to Japanese papers, for example, being theoretically more able to shift to a paid-for online subscription model than US papers, which would have more trouble matching print ad revenue numbers online.
A few other interesting facts:
- Growth in circulation in the BIIC countries between 2000 and 2008 – notably in India (45% increase), South Africa (34%) and China (29%) have offset losses in OECD countries, with the result that global circulation is marginally up.
- Tabloid circulation isn’t holding up any better than quality papers, although specialized papers seem to be holding on to circulation better than general publications.
- And from a study in Australia quoted in the report, 30% of online readers are loyal users, sticking to preferred brands and more likely to read a print paper; 60% were “convenience users” who access news from a range of sources and have little connection to mainstream news; and 10% actively customized their news sources.
The report also looks at policy prescriptions and proposals in a range of countries, from tax breaks to promoting newspaper reading to younger people, and including a discussion of whether public broadcasting results in unfair competition to commercial media online.
It doesn’t really look into new forms of journalism, but it offers a lot of useful information – and given how ideological some of the debate has been, this provides a very useful resource. We can’t have informed debates unless we have information.