Study Provides Salutary Tale of Print Versus Web

A study of a newspaper that closed its print edition to become online-only has found it has since suffered losses in both revenue and web traffic.

Researchers from City University London studied Finnish financial daily, Taloussanomat, to find that, five months after going online-only, the number of unique users to the title’s website had fallen 22 per cent, with page impressions down 11 per cent.

Neil Thurman and Merja Myllylahti also estimate that readers now spend about 75 per cent less time reading Taloussanomat than they did when it was available both in print and on the web.

Says a report on www.computescotland.com: “Although Taloussanomat costs fell 52 per cent when its presses were silenced, revenue also dropped – by at least 75 per cent – due to the loss of print advertising and subscription income.

“However, in absolute terms, the cost savings more than offset the loss of income because the title had been losing money for some time.

“Based on their case study, the City University researchers conclude that a newspaper would have to have an operating loss of 31 per cent or greater to make ditching its print edition worthwhile.”

Comment: The City University research on a Finnish local paper which lost at least 75% revenue from readers and advertisers when it stopped printing and went online should be a wake up call to the industry. Also, it shows the folly of Governments and political bodies aiming to switch public notices and job adverts to the web, destroying more local papers. We need much more research like this in Scotland to give the results to the web-obsessed. The Finnish results are no surprise -