Monday, September 5, 2016

Shaking Off the Print Legacy: Newspaper Association of America Changes its Name

Earlier this year I wrote about how the Winnipeg Free Press is no longer a newspaper.

“We are a news engine that produces a newspaper—and a website, a Facebook page, video, livestreaming, and a salon at the News CafĂ©,” said editor Paul Samyn.

“We are not a newspaper, but we publish one,” he stated, adding that the Free Press is “trying to shake off the print legacy.”

Well, add the the Newspaper Association of Americaer, the former Newspaper Association of America—to the list of those who are shaking off the legacy of print.

On September 7 the Association, founded in 1887, announced a name change: Now it will be known as the News Media Alliance.

Why the change? Simple. The number of newspapers in the U.S. continues to decline, down to 2,000 from 2,700 in 2008.

But that’s not the only issue. According to David Chavern, the Association’s chief executive, the word “newspaper” has become meaningless in reference to many of its members which today reach many of its readers via the Web.

“Newspaper’ is not a big enough word to describe the industry anymore,” Mr. Chavern said. “The future of this industry is much broader.”

(The move will also allow non-print news organizations, like Buzzfeed, to join the Association—a good move in light of falling membership.)

In an article about the name change in the New York Times, author Jim Rutenberg pointed out that although news on print is disappearing, it’s not as if people don’t want news anymore.

“Through online exposure, newspapers are reaching more people than ever,” he wrote. “The problem is how they make money. Circulation for physical newspapers is declining, and so is print advertising; digital ads remain far less profitable.

“The trick is finding a way to make up the lost revenue.”

Yes, that is the trick—and a big one, at that. Maybe changing the way we look at how we get news, and what we call it, is a start.

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