American writer and humorist Mark Twain once complained newspaper reports of his death were exaggerated. At the time, they were. More than a century later, the question isn’t so much whether or not Twain is dead. Spoiler alert: he is. The question these days is whether or not newspapers could die, too.
From some vantage points, the outlook isn’t promising. Newspaper circulation has dropped. So has advertising revenue and especially newsroom staffing.
Still, annual revenue from newspaper circulation and advertising in the United States totals nearly $30 billion. That’s billion with a B, which rhymes with C and that stands for cash. While most newspapers offer print and online editions, the good, old-fashion display advertisements printed on paper continue to account for the bulk of revenue.
Moreover, I’d argue newspapers play an indispensable role and what the world needs now, perhaps more than ever, is good journalism. I agree less with Donald Trump and more with Thomas Jefferson in their presidential assessments of the newspaper industry. Jefferson said: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the later.”