Print is dying, right? Not so fast

Don’t expect this story to get coverage from those who always seem to be claiming that print media is dying. The Economist, the venerable newspaper (which looks like a magazine) has seen revenues, profits and print circulation all rise:

"The Economist Group’s chief executive, Helen Alexander, has signed off from her 11-year leadership of the publisher by unveiling a 16pc rise in American print advertising for its flagship title and a 23pc increase in operating profit.

The Economist’s double-digit growth comes at a time when US news media have been under pressure. Time magazine, the market leader with 3.3m readers, saw sales fall away sharply last year as prices were increased to make up for falling advertising revenues… The Economist’s circulation has doubled in a decade, including a 9pc spurt last year to 1.3m copies a week."

Of course, some of those healthy profits have to do with The Economist’s web site. But even here, it bucks the trend: rather than make everything available for free, its archives are only available to subscribers or readers who have to sit through an irritating Flash ad.

Of course, The Economist’s print strategy is simple: steal a bigger slice of the smaller pie. Rather than just run to a growing market (online advertising), it has decided to also concentrate on getting a bigger share of print advertising, too.

How does it do it? Simple: By producing content that’s better quality, better-researched, and better written than anyone else. No blogs, no Twitter, just better (and harder) work.

Will the success story of The Economist be taught in journalism schools? I doubt it. The new, shiny and cool tends to be more exciting to those in college than dull stuff like writing to a tight style, making lots of phone calls and nurturing contacts.

But hey, that’s enough of this curmudgeonliness – let’s concentrate on things like Twitter, which has a bigger user-base (1.9 million) and has never made a single cent from any of them. Now that’s a success story that the young ought to emulate…