Author: Joanna Huss, Huss Group Founder + CEO


An early-morning walk through any neighborhood tells the story: no bagged newspapers in driveways. People get their news online, choosing Facebook or other social feeds over traditional news outlets. Think about the 2016 presidential election: according to Pew Research Center, two-thirds of U.S. adults cited “digital sources” as their primary outlet for information.

And it’s happening in our headquarters town as it has elsewhere – long-standing, trusted media companies cutting back, consolidating, restructuring, or remaking themselves. Pew pegged 2015 as the worst year for newspapers since the recession: circulation fell by 7%, and advertising declined by 8%.

Pittsburgh was the latest major American city to change its status as a two-daily-newspaper town when the Tribune-Review stopped its print edition after nearly 25 years of publication. The newspaper became online-only, joining traditional papers in Cleveland, Detroit, Harrisburg and other national markets. Even Pittsburgh’s dominant news source, the Post-Gazette, announced plans to invest more into digital platforms to keep up with consumer choices and the 24/7 news cycle.

So what does all of this rapid change mean for you?

In Huss Group’s three-part series, “A New Media Landscape,” we’ll examine what this shift means for businesses and nonprofits seeking to get noticed, or to manage their reputations during unexpected crises. We’ll go behind-the-scenes talking with new media businesses in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Washington, D.C. and New York, bringing you essential information on how these new players operate and how you must adapt – or risk getting left behind.

In our last segment, we’ll define strategies that will help your organization land that quintessential, objective, earned-media story you deserve and suggest hyper-targeted marketing strategies that will get you noticed. And, as this rapidly changing media environment unfolds, we’ll keep the information coming to you, with the launch of my podcast, in collaboration with one of the top marketing minds, ImageBox’s CEO John Mahood.

For now, let’s set the foundation of this series by diving deeper into some of the “Whys” of this shift. It starts with money. After all, the news media are first and foremost businesses.

Quite simply, consumers don’t pay for news, advertisers do. As Americans’ fascination with TV and the Internet soared, suddenly newspapers no longer were the place to find ads from department stores, auto dealers, restaurants, even employers offering jobs or people selling things they no longer want. The traditional business model for print papers (relying on advertisers, subscribers and newsstand sales, with costly fleets of delivery trucks) began to buckle.  

Younger people clearly aren’t interested in investing time to read a daily newspaper the way that their parents and grandparents did. Why bother when cyberspace offers a wealth of information and entertainment from around the world, around the clock, tailored to your exact interests?

Still, some traditional newspapers couldn’t accept that technology was changing their world and didn’t immediately invest in it. And many that did create digital publications couldn’t meet the challenge of making money online.

With the loss of their exclusive control over advertisers, newspapers began to consolidate and cut back during economic ups and downs of the 1970s and ‘80s. As they competed for readers, papers dramatically changed their design and content, largely replacing “watchdog” journalism with news that would appeal to the masses without offending too many people, such as sports, lifestyle features and hyper-local “news.” Some editors and reporters, beaten down by budget and staffing cuts, became lazy with content.  All this, as the Internet exploded in the late ‘90s.

And here we are today, where Google rakes in more ad dollars than all U.S. print media combined.

What’s next?

In A New Media Landscape: Part 2 we’ll share first-hand insight from leaders of digital media companies on how you must adapt in today’s changing media landscape.

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