BROOKINGS, S.D. – With the landscape of modern journalism rapidly changing, what does the future look like for newspapers? According to the director of The South Dakota Newspaper Association, good journalism, earned readership and maintaining the attention of readers will sustain news publications for the foreseeable future.
“It’s all about showing local content and tailoring content to the subscriber”, said Dave Bordewyk, executive director of The South Dakota Newspaper Association which represents the state’s daily and weekly newspapers.
As any newspaper publisher will tell you, digital media is a tough business. Quality content is expensive to produce, and the revenue that individual publishers generate from advertising has been on a steady decline as more brands shift their spend to Facebook and Google. The duopoly, as they’re commonly referred to, now account for more than 60 percent of U.S. digital ad spend.
With new technology and the internet impacting the way that journalists do their jobs and downward financial pressures consistently facing traditional media organizations, the answer is anything but certain.
“Today’s landscape requires a consolidation of publications. Today’s publisher must own three, four, five newspapers – a cluster of them to make it go”, Bordewyk said.
Business is tougher for those in the media business – there have been a number of layoffs and newspapers continue to struggle to turn a profit – there are new models taking hold and companies are scrambling to find ways to survive and thrive in this new world, said Bordewyk.
For better or worse, that means that most publishers can learn from Google and Facebook’s sway. Google and Facebook have three advantages over publishers: scale, identity data and incredible ad tech. Bordewyk said if publishers come together under a joint banner, they’ll finally gain back control of their own destinies. In the process, they’ll create high-performing campaigns that advertisers will pay more for and cut out their reliance on middlemen. That’s a much better strategy than waiting for legislators to save them from the duopoly.
One example of this is the formation of South Dakota News Watch which is funded by private donations and foundations and is supported by several media organizations.
South Dakota News Watch journalists investigate important subjects, unravel complicated issues and tell stories that too often go untold—stories that make sense of our complex world.
While local media continue to serve their communities by reporting daily news events, South Dakota News Watch is focused on the big picture. That means informing and engaging South Dakotans so we can identify ways to make our great state even better and stronger.
The media companies involved in South Dakota News Watch have set aside competitive business pressures to collaborate in providing more watchdog, investigative and public service journalism.
“The question is always, ‘when is the printed product going to die?’ but I maintain the main product is still going to be a printed piece. It’s transformative,” Bordewyk said. “The printed product isn’t going away anytime soon. Our country needs journalism. Our democracy needs journalism. Without a free press, our country will suffer.”