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Posted by Emily Taraborrelli on June 19, 2014

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! With the first daily newspaper concept dating all the way back to 69 B.C., it is surprising that other than Gutenberg inventing the press in 1450, most of the changes in newspaper have happened in the last 20 years with the emergence of digital media and the shift to instantaneous news sources.

Picture this change:

50 years ago on a Saturday morning, the kids are watching their favourite black and white cartoon, while Mom is in the kitchen making breakfast and Dad is sitting back with his newspaper drinking a coffee. Reading the newspaper is Dad’s me-time. He catches up on the local current events, business news, sports scores and more. He keeps up with the Joneses by reading his newspaper.

Flash-forward to 2014 – the kids may still be watching their favourite morning cartoons, albeit perhaps not even on live TV thanks to online streaming and the convenient capabilities of handing an upset child a tablet. Mom and Dad may still be in the kitchen enjoying their morning coffee, but something’s different. Even if Mom and Dad review the newspaper, it is likely not for up-to-date news – in fact, the news may already be “old”.

Although sad, considering that newspaper’s paper-and-ink format was relatively unchanged for hundreds of years, it’s no surprise that there has been a sudden change in the way we consume this content. Because of this decline in newspaper readership, advertising revenues are down. Advertisers are redirecting funds into digital media with the emergence of more and more targeted digital platforms and content integration opportunities.

So what are newspapers to do? How will newspapers survive? Will they survive at all?

The answer? Maybe. But not without a new strategy on delivering content that consumers want in the format they want it. Newspapers have spent years establishing their brands in the marketplace. They offer trusted content and are often considered reputable sources. In theory if this content could be delivered in a quicker, more portable way, it should still be desired – right?

This is exactly what newspapers are trying to implement. The first newspaper website launched in 1994 for The Halifax Daily News. Since then, all newspaper banners have followed suit, focusing more and more on their digital offerings. Some newspapers have extended their website offerings into a paid platform allowing for people to subscribe to gain digital access to their favourite newspaper.

Digital access subscriptions like those from Toronto Star and Globe & Mail, allow newspaper lovers to download e-editions and unlimited articles for a low monthly cost. This concept may be sustainable in the short-term future with brand loyal Baby Boomers who want to read their favourite newspaper in a digital, portable format, but the long-term prognosis is questionable.

People still need to pay for digital access subscriptions. Although monthly costs are generally low, it begs the question: why should I have to pay for this content when I can get it from multiple other reputable sources for free? What’s in it for me?

Newspapers need to ensure their digital platforms offer added value to the reader, that makes it worth the monthly subscription cost; meaning great, unprecedented content that the reader is willing to pay for.

Or, they need their digital platforms to be free and they’ll have to rely on advertising revenue to stay afloat.

La Presse, a well-known French newspaper in Montreal, has done just that. They’ve developed probably the best digital newspaper in the Canadian marketplace. It offers enriched multimedia content updated daily, exclusive content and interactive elements that are both editorial and advertiser driven. And it’s all for free to the reader– for now. With an impressive 490,000+ app downloads, La Presse has successfully changed the newspaper business model, and has incorporate the reader’s need for interactive, digitally-available news in the marketplace.

Advertisers are jumping on board as well, with fun, engaging interactive advertising opportunities available –click here to check them out!

La Presse has already announced plans to completely phase out their printed edition and focus solely on their digital offerings – a very realistic outlook on the future of newspaper publishing: publish digitally, provide superior content, and engage your readers beyond ink and paper capabilities.

So what’s BTI’s prediction?

Well, with hundreds of layoffs and decreasing advertising revenues in the newspaper industry, it’s safe to say that newspaper consumption will never be the same. Is there still an audience for newspaper? Absolutely. But as Gen X and Y’s age, will they want to consume newspaper content the same way their Baby Boomer parents did? Probably not. Strong newspaper brands will continue to shift their focus to digital offerings, providing trusted content that readers crave. The content, however, will be more interactive, more up-to-date, and of course, easily accessible on any digital device.