Publishers are getting wise to the demand for trusted content, and that readers are willing to pay for it.
Launching the 2019 World Press Trends report, WAN-Ifra chief executive Vincent Peyrègne says "in the fog of questionable content", consumers are increasingly seeking trusted, quality content.
"And this is not lost on publishers who are sharpening their focus on building engagement with their readers who are likewise more willing to pay for content, and more.
"This year's data also shows the myriad challenges facing publishers but, quite interestingly, statistical evidence of the impact of a free and independent press on a number of critical societal issues."
Findings of 30th edition of the report underscores the ongoing conundrum of the industry - overall global revenues in 2018 continued to shrink as did some newsrooms, yet paying audiences and demand for quality news continue to increase.
The report analyses the data collected from WAN-Ifra's annual survey of more than 50 countries, in addition to the insights and data from global partners, including ZenithOptimedia, IPSOS, PwC, Chartbeat, Parse.ly and IO Technologies.
This year's analysis was conducted by François Nel, reader in media innovation at Central Lancashire university's media innovation studio; Coral Milburn-Curtis, an associate fellow at Oxford University's Green Templeton College; and Castulus Kolo of Munich's Macromedia University of Applied Sciences.
Among findings from the report:
Global revenues (print and digital) declined three per cent (YoY 2018) with much of that hit coming from print advertising revenue (down seven per cent);
Digital advertising revenues increased by five per cent and are forecast to improve in 2019;
Paying news audiences increased by 0.5 per cent, to 640 million per day in 2018, fuelled primarily by the continued strategy and growth in getting readers to convert to digital subscribers (up 11 per cent YoY). Nearly 54 per cent of newspapers' overall revenue comes from circulation sales.
Despite much of the focus on digital transformation, the report estimates that print revenues still account for about 86 per cent of news publishers' revenue. In 2018 print circulation declined only one per cent globally. Naturally, that picture varies from region to region and from country to country.
Peyrègne says the report offers "robust statistical evidence" that shows direct and strong relationships between a free and independent press and factors that indicate the strength of democracies, the health of societies, as well as both the wealth of nations and the fortunes of its people.
Google continues to be the most important traffic source for news media companies globally, accounting for two out of every three page views from the leading global technology companies, according to analysis of data from Chartbeat. Yet the relationship with tech platforms remains tenuous if at times hopeful.
Data from the World Press Trends report - which has been published since 1989 - is also compiled in an interactive database, both free to WAN-Ifra members. Non-members can contact the organisation for access options, details at http://www.wan-ifra.org/wpt
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