Global newspaper chiefs have some rare good news to share after years of slumping print sales and advertising revenues — readers appear increasingly willing to pay for online news.
More than 1,500 newspaper editors and other media figures are meeting in Bangkok this week as papers continue to shed readers — at least in the older markets — and the shift to the Internet draws more “eyeballs” but lower ad rates.
Press freedom, journalist safety, the use of new technology and future trends in print and advertising will also be discussed at the four-day annual World Newspaper Congress, which runs until June 5.
The issue of charging readers for web and mobile content looms largest, with editors casting an envious eye at media groups which have successfully implemented “paywalls” after years of giving away news for free.
“The general impression was that it would be impossible to reverse the culture of free (online) content... that people will never pay for it,” said Gilles Demptos of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.
“The great news is, that is changing dramatically,” he added, citing the boom in paid-for online subscriptions for the “high-quality” journalism of the New York Times (NYT) and Financial Times.
Last month, the NYT became the second most-read US daily newspaper, with a circulation of over 1 million. The figure was boosted by 325,000 new digital readers who have joined since a paywall was introduced in 2011.