The age of people reading newspapers has skyrocketed over the past three years, according to a veteran media executive.
“The rapid graying of the newspaper audience has huge and unpleasant implications for publishers,’’ says Alan Mutter on his blog Reflections of a Newsosaur
Mutter crunched figures from the Pew Research Center to find that 74 percent of the nation’s newspaper audience is now 45 years of age or more.
Alarmingly, only 6 percent of the newspaper audience is 18-24.
Mutter says this can be “regarded as nothing less than a crisis’’ for the industry.
That’s because “the mature skew of the audience is unappealing to most advertisers, who generally target individuals in the early life stages of forming households and raising children,’’ he says.
“The older audience delivered by newspapers could reduce the sales potential for an industry that already has lost more than half of its advertising since hitting an all-time high of $49.4 billion in 2005.’’
Mutter — a former top editor at the Chicago Sun-Times and San Francisco Chronicle — says weak readership among the young suggests “the form and content of the print product are not widely appealing to the generations that came of age in the digital age.’’
While it’s unlikely a significant number of under-45s can be attracted to print, he says, “publishers have a shot at extending and protecting their valuable franchises by developing digitally native products.
“The time for the industry to pivot from print to pixels appears to running low. In the meantime, none of us is getting any younger.’’
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