News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Max Jones

May 2, 2009

MAX JONES: Printed newspaper will be here for years to come

(Continued)

TERRE HAUTE —

How can that be?

Keep a couple things in mind. Independent research shows that 2.1 readers consume each printed daily newspaper we produce. The number is higher, 2.4 readers, for Sunday newspapers. That means, while our average circulation is around 25,000, actual readership of the print edition is more than double that number.

Still, that’s not the half of it.

For more than 10 years, the Tribune-Star has offered a free online edition containing most of the daily news, photos, features and opinions we produce. Over the years, online readership has exploded. Just last month, we recorded more than a quarter million unique visitors to our Web site, www.tribstar.com. In the past year, we recorded more than 16 million page views.

The online edition certainly has expanded the scope of our readership. While it is true that some people who once paid for the information we produce now read it online for free, the Internet has allowed us to reach readers once unavailable to us with our print product. And those who read us online can do so at their convenience using computers and cell phones.

Despite the rapid growth of online readership, stable circulation of the print edition indicates that a printed daily newspaper will be available in Terre Haute for a long, long time. What’s more, history tells us that this recession will end and the economy will grow again. When it does, ad revenues will rebound and many of the struggles newspapers are experiencing will ease.

That does not mean newspapers can rely solely on their ages-old print business model forever. This is a period of transition, and legions of smart, creative people are working and experimenting to craft a new business model for newspapers that will allow an independent press to live on.

Donna Barrett, president and CEO of Community Newspapers Holdings Inc., the Tribune-Star’s parent corporation, does a very good job of explaining more about the current status of the newspaper industry in a Flashpoint essay published today on Page D3 of this section. I recommend you read it.

Most people can’t imagine their community without a local newspaper. Nor should they have to. Despite industry challenges, the future is far from bleak. At the Tribune-Star, we’re optimistic and enthusiastic about that future.



Jones can be reached at (812) 231-4336, or by e-mail at max.jones@tribstar.com.

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