How Sean Kernan asks such good questions

Every third title has disappeared

Much is currently being written about the Swiss press landscape. The readership of traditional print media is increasingly turning to digitally available offers and is rarely willing to pay for news on the Internet. Both the number of print titles and that of newspaper publishers has been falling for years. In addition, the quality of reporting according to the Research Institute for the Public and Society (foeg), an institute closely linked to the University of Zurich, is declining to a worrying extent, as the yearbook Quality of the Media 2014 published on October 27, 2014 shows. In this context, the Federal Media Commission (EMEK) put “new media promotion measures up for discussion” back in September.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of print titles continues to decline: of the almost 300 titles that were counted in the mid-1980s, fewer than 200 have survived to this day. Every third title has disappeared. The average daily circulation has also fallen massively in the same period: from almost 3.5 million copies in the peak year 1986 to well below 2 million today. And not only are the circulation shrinking, the newspapers are also getting thinner and thinner. After the vast majority of classifieds and job advertisements moved to the internet years ago, the rest of the newspaper content has been following for a long time. Official publications such as tenders, bankruptcies or building decisions, etc. have been kept surprisingly well in the printed edition to this day. These are now offered in parallel by almost all municipalities and cantons, both in the print edition and on the corresponding online platform. It can be assumed that this information will only be available online in the not too distant future, not least because of cost and sustainability considerations.

The relocation of editorial content to the Internet is exciting. You can find them today in the online editions of newspapers and magazines, but also in blogs, news portals and on social media. It is interesting to note that the advantages of the respective medium are often only used cautiously: Instead of enriching and supplementing print articles with additional information and multimedia content on the Internet or, conversely, providing more background reports on already published online news in the print edition, articles are in Online and print editions of Swiss daily newspapers are usually absolutely identical.

The fact that this is the case also has to do with the distribution of news reports: A significant part of the content now comes directly from the news agencies and is taken over by telquel or, if necessary, slightly adapted (see also the Quality of the Media Yearbook 2014, page 12). Not only the titles of the regional weekly press usually have such scarce editorial resources today that independent local and regional research and the coverage of a wide range of topics can hardly be carried out. The titles of the daily, Sunday and business press are not doing much better either: For cost reasons, newsrooms are being merged and more and more content is being bought.

When analyzing the average reporting on our customers and their topics, we recently noticed that not only is the variety of different newspaper titles decreasing, but also the variety of reporting on local and regional actors and topics in general. For example, mentioning Swiss companies or their topics by name is limited to around 95% of cases over the course of a year less than 60 print titles. The lion's share is made up of the leading media from the daily, Sunday and business press, with a large lead over titles from the trade and specialty press (“special interest” publications). The question that arises more and more is whether it is still worthwhile to continue to monitor print publications comprehensively when the same content is largely available online. Above all against the background that comprehensive online monitoring can usually be implemented much more cost-effectively than corresponding print monitoring.

Our general recommendation is therefore: When monitoring print media, focus your main attention on your most important keywords and focus your monitoring on the most important leading media from the daily, Sunday and business press as well as the specialist magazines that are relevant to you. In addition, you can complete your media monitoring with broader thematic search terms in the online area and on social media. And by the way: The change in content from radio and TV is also advancing rapidly. Both national and regional TV and radio stations are transforming their online presence step by step from simple company websites with broadcast information to full-blown multimedia news portals. More and more broadcasting vessels are now freely accessible over the Internet and can of course be found by our online search!