One of my correspondents urged me to look at the print edition of today’s Boston Globe and count up the ads. I did — and I didn’t even have to use the fingers on two hands. There were two quarter-page ads and two smaller ads in the A section and a full page of auto dealers in the sports section on page C3. And that was it. Monday’s paper was actually a little meatier, and here we are just a few shopping days before Christmas. Tuesday is generally a down day for newspaper advertising, so I expect it will pick up the rest of the week. Still, the ongoing decline is real.
The perennial question is whether the Globe will cut back on print days, as a number of daily papers have across the country. Not necessarily. The Globe charges about $1,400 a year for home delivery of the print edition, and that’s a lot of money. Maybe it’s also enough to keep seven-day print alive. After all, it would be difficult to offer just four, five or six print editions a week without also cutting the price.
At some point, I think it’s likely that most daily papers will have one big weekend print edition with digital-only the rest of the week. But when that will happen is anyone’s guess. As recently as a year ago, about 55% of the Globe’s consumer revenue came from its print edition even though digital subscriptions have long since left print circulation in the dust. Print will last as long as it continues to make sense economically.
Correction: I somehow missed the death notices and legal ads in today’s Globe. And since state law requires that legal s be published in print newspapers, that’s another reason to keep the print edition alive.