For more than two decades, industry sages have been predicting the death of the printed newspaper. Now, reports The Washington Post, “a growing number of local publishers are cutting back on their print editions, pointing to rising costs and arguing consumers will prefer the immediacy and convenience of online news.”
Gannett, continued The Post, the largest chain in the country, “eliminated one day of print per week at 136 of its newspapers, including at the Beacon Journal. Another 50 will make the change by June, with most losing Saturday print editions. Subscribers can download digital copies of the print paper, or e-editions, on those days. And the company touted online perks, saying it was “embracing our digital future with this evolved experience.”
“Executives insist readers will get the same quality of journalism. Amalie Nash, Gannett’s senior vice president of local news, said there are “particular pressures” on print publications, including significant print costs, inflation and a shortage of drivers that has left 1 in 10 delivery routes unstaffed.”
The Gannett papers are hardly the first newspapers to head this direction, adds The Post. The Plain Dealer in Cleveland scaled back to three days of home delivery years ago. McClatchy, which owns 30 newspapers around the country, announced in 2019 it would cut Saturday editions. Citing the pandemic, the Tampa Bay Times reduced printing to just twice a week.
The abandonment of print has actually progressed more slowly than many anticipated, said Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for the Poynter Institute. The change at Gannett “is incremental, but I think it’s a step along the way to bigger reductions.”