#soe09: Jim Chisholm – the five myths affecting UK newspapers

Jim Chisholm took the stage at the Society of Editors conference this morning to counter some of the doom and gloom for the industry predicted by previous speaker Claire Enders.

Five myths currently circulating in the UK newspaper industry can be dispelled, argued Chisholm, joint principal of iMedia Advisory Services:

1) “We’re all going to die.”
2) “Journalism is omnipotent and UK journalism is better than its competitors.”
3) “The internet is everything – good and bad.”
4) “Newspapers are so powerful that they have to be controlled, restricted and regulated.”
5) “It’s all inevitable.”

The full audio of Chisholm’s presentation will follow, but to round-up some key quotes:

  • “The Birmingham Post has been dead for 20 years (…) That paper has been a problem child for 20 years,” said Chisholm as an example. “But I don’t believe that 50 per cent of papers will be dead in five years time, it might be 10 per cent.”
  • “Newspapers’ circulation in this country can decline a long, long way before they become invaluable.”
  • Regional newspapers currently have a 11.3 per cent profit margin in the UK; nationals 8.2 per cent. Tesco’s profit margin is 8.2 per cent, but no one is predicting Tesco’s death, said Chisholm.
  • “This business doesn’t have a profit problem it has a debt problem.”
  • “UK newspapers are behind other markets in attracting digital revenues.”
  • “UK newspapers aren’t working together – phone up competitors quick and get working with them.”
  • “Go to the NLA and get them to have a single pricing mechanism, because I might pay for a service that gives me all of the newspapers together.”
  • “It’s true that fewer young people are reading, but it’s true that people’s newspaper readership is highest when you’re younger. It’s a myth that people start reading when they’re older.”

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