What we’re looking at is a chart of the Washington Post’s print and digital financials.
What we’re seeing is that one rises and one falls.
What causes concern is the persistent analog dollars versus digital pennies conundrum.
Via Frédéric Filloux of Monday Note:
Over the last seven years, for each dollar added to online revenue, the WaPo lost five dollars on print. During that time, the Post has lost $88m of print ad revenue and it improved its online business by only $18m. This leads us to a key realization, a sobering one: there is no hope current online revenue stream will someday offset the past decade’s tremendous losses.
Let’s face it: the online advertising business model, when applied to the transformation of the newspaper industry, is largely failure.
Filloux’s analysis is definitely interesting in that he tries to tackle some of the blockages publishers face.
Take this, for example:
For instance, very few publishers of money-losing dailies can elude the following question: Wouldn’t it be smarter to accelerate the downward spiral of their print activity in order to feed more oxygen and nutrients to the emerging online business? Each time I’m testing the idea with my fellow European publishers, I’m getting a straight answer: “No f**** way, pal. Print is still where the revenue is!” I politely refrain from saying “so are your losses, pal”. Beyond this thin-skinned reaction lies a more rational fear: brand dissolution into the digital maelstrom. And there is no successful example of the kind of bold move I recommend.
Frédéric Filloux, The Publisher’s Dilemma.