Since I was a little boy, I loved getting up every morning and reading the newspaper. For the past 30+ years, I have been in the habit of buying a local paper, or when on vacation, USA Today or The Boston Globe or whatever.
During the last year or so, however, like many of you, I find myself buying the paper less and less. And then I got to thinking. And then I did some research. Here are some random facts and thoughts:
- Every year for the last 17 years, newspaper sales have gone down nationally, even though our population has pierced the 300 million mark. 17 years ago, the internet was not a common household term, and gave it no competition.
- Newspaper ad space keeps going up, every single year, making the cost versus benefit counter productive. A full page in the Sunday Times of Trenton for a Realtor is approximately $7,000. Ouch.
- Newspaper ads typically account for about 3% of all inquiries into a real estate office. Even less turn into sales. Why? 1) Too much clutter. 2) Its not how people shop anymore. 3) Extremely limited information. 4) 80+% of all buyers now start their home search on the web.
- I have less time now than ever to sit down and read all of the paper, making it a waste of time to buy it in the first place. Then when I do read it, the murders, rapes, child abandonment stories and the like are not how I prefer to begin my day. On the web, I can pick and choose which stories I am interested in. FREE.
- Everything in the newspaper can be had, for free, on the internet and TV. With color photos, video, charts, graphs, etc. In real estate, a buyer can visit my website and get the address of the property, a virtual tour, photos, learn of the next open house, see the floor plan…you get the idea.
- I don’t trust (all) people who write articles in the newspaper. Have you ever read an article about something you witnessed, like a sporting event, or in your area of expertise? Enough said.
- Many of us, but especially Generation X&Y, want to be stimulated with video, color, interactivity. Not newsprint.
- Newspapers, while recycled very efficiently, still are the #1 contributor to landfills.
- Most newspapers are known for making numerous mistakes to Realtor ad copy. Once printed, too late.
- Most people at newspapers seem to have arrogance, knowing they are one of the only games in town. Trudy Holzbaur at The Times of Trenton is the rare exception.
I fully expect 90% of newspapers to be extinct within 7 years. The NY Times, LA Times, USA Today and some tiny independents will somehow figure out how to stay relevant and profitable.