The Death of Newspapers or the Rise of Reddit?

The Death of Newspapers or the Rise of Reddit?

TechCrunch recently pointed out that "Google’s Got Some Suggestions" about what Newspapers are:

While newsprint may not be rubbing off on as many people’s hands each morning as we down our coffee and corn flakes, the audience for news websites, especially aggregators, is actually growing.

I know that I’m exposed to more information because of social news services.  For example, as political debates rage in Washington this fall, I’m often learning about events from my Facebook News Feed.   I have a very liberal friend and a very conservative friend that post articles, with dueling points of view, from sources like Forbes or the New Yorker that I never visit on my own.

As people like me migrate to online news sources, what are the trends worth noting?  Compete.com has a set of news categories that can help us examine this question.

  • Between 90 and 95 million people visit World news sites, like CNN or Reuters, each month
  • The audience for Regional News sites, the web pages for the LA Times, New York Daily News and others, has grown 22% in the past two years
  • Visitors to sites that we categorize as News Aggregators and Socially Generated News including Digg and Reddit, increased 80% in the past two years

So, are newspapers really dying?  No doubt media companies must address social factors, like American’s busier lifestyles, and improve their business plans, but the audience for news is not evaporating; we are simply finding other methods to get the same information.  The stories are even written by traditional sources, but the delivery methods suit our changing needs better.

If you are heavily invested in a company that manufactures rolls of newsprint you may want to stop reading now and go rebalance your portfolio, but if I told you that you could invest in an industry with 40M monthly customers that grew 80% in the past two years — would that get you to put down the coffee and fire up E*TRADE?

Compete data seems to indicate that reports of the newspaper business’ death are greatly exaggerated.   A growing number of Internet users still read the news, but in a way that works for them.  I’m excited to learn more about Apple’s tablet and an array of new online tools that will fulfill this need in the months and years to come.