Monday, November 7, 2011

Youth and Newspaper readership an opinion and debate

I was at a seminar yesterday in Gampaha of the Distributors and Agents of the Newspapers of a leading publisher and amongst many topics discussed was one that is timely and worthy of discussion. It is important that to continue either increasing circulation or expanding, there must be increases in readership by young people, an age group that is perceived not to read newspapers.

Whilst I do not fall into the youth category, I nevertheless read the English dailies on the Internet, the main paper I read being emailed to me at around 6.30am. I then go through the Sinhala papers in the office as soon as I get there.

In the discussion, the general consensus was that the papers are not purchased by the young, though in some households certain sections of the paper are read by the youth. They nevertheless when they get on line, do not read the papers opting instead for the gossip websites giving the latest on this actress or that and what fracas they got into so as to be up to date on these matters.

It was pointed out by some that many young people are actually quite aimless, easily being influenced by the drug and alcohol culture out of peer pressure and the papers editors were asked to include sections of interest for youth as none exist at present. Remember that it is the Sinhala papers we talk about, circulation of English papers is miniscule. There is an overload of politics and politically related topics that young people are just not interested in. So it is important to survey what it is they would like to see and cater to this need. Only then can the papers expect some sort of growth in this dwindling market. The epitaph of newspaper circulation has been written and the readership in the US is in decline since the advent of the Internet revolution, unless they can be transferred there.

We can still transfer the readership of the papers to the Net in easily readable form, be it on the smart phone or the tablet. Internet readership makes more sense if they can convince the advertisers, the bread and butter of the paper, that their ads are seen on line when we log into the paper. With the cost of newsprint exceeding the cost of the paper, the latter observation is very important to the paper itself if it is to continue to show increasing ad revenue in a time of declining circulation, showing that people opt to read the papers on line. It is also ecologically sound.

Once the need to be informed is believed by youth, it is easier to use electronic newspaper readership to continue to gain numbers, rather than fight circulation. This however is little comfort to the Agents who do not benefit from the Internet!


Anonymous said...

It is really sad to think that the english newspaper readership is miniscule compared to the Sinhala.

This does not bode well for the global competitiveness of our workforce.

Singapore's official language is English.

This is one of the key reasons they are where they are today. No one talks about it.

Rohan Samarajiva said...

Households spend more on lotteries and betting (LKR 50/month) than on purchases of books, newspapers and magazines (LKR 43/mo.); they spend 17 times more money on telecom and Internet services (LKR 750) than on books, newspapers and magazines. In relation to the total household expenditure which is more than LKR 31,000, the amount spent on books, newspapers and magazines is negligible. All data from Household Income & Expenditure Survey 2009-10.

Anonymous said...



MR - You May be next.

It is only a matter of time before Sri Lankan bond yields blow up.

The question is will it be the end of MR?

Or will we turn into Zimbabwe.

Either way, the SL economy looks headed for trouble:

1. High oil prices
2. Depleting foreign reserves
3. Increasing interest rates
4. Breakdown in law and order
5. Lack of confidence in the Judiciary
6. Lack of confidence by the biz community as a result of the expropriation law
7. Capital flight

We are in big trouble. Any comments from the eminent economist commenter?

Anonymous said...

the comment is that you're talking bullsh-t.

the country has survived through 30 years of civil war and NOW is going to implode? give us a break

Anonymous said...

Greece, Italy, the USA, and many other countries have suffered through much worse than the SL civil war.

Economies go down and governments fall all the time.

SL will come back strong under good leadership. The situation right now is on a downward trajectory.

SL has never been as dependent on foreign lenders as it is today. If they get jitters...

Watch out Anon!

You will probably lose your shirt, just like what is happening to all non-cronies in the SL stock market.

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