Print media’s decline is deserving of this attention. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2016-2020, projects that “in 2020, the newspaper market in South Africa is expected to be R1 billion smaller than in 2015” and “the difficulty of monetising digital magazines means digital magazine growth will not be enough to offset print losses”. Uncertainty in the South African book industry is present as there are government proposals to reduce the number of approved school textbooks, a worrying prospect as the educational market makes up more than half of the South African book publishing industry. On a global scale, the industry is stagnating. PWC’s segment findings on newspapers show that the Asian Pacific is the only region where print circulation is growing, which likely still will fail to recover the US$23.8 billion loss in the total global newspaper advertising revenue, predicted to happen between 2012 and 2021. The growth in the Asian Pacific is doubly good due to its direct influence from a rise in literacy rates that brought about increased readership. There are benefits to the decline in the print media industry, despite the gravity of the consequences understandably being able to overshadow them. In the printing aspect alone the reduction in paper consumption and the production process is environmentally beneficial. In this period of significant change, it is important to remain grounded. A vital aspect of the developments in mass communications is that, while the means of accessing and distributing information is undergoing a revolution, the pursuit and appetite for information is not going to disappear – content remains king. Alphabets and writing materials were created so we could defy the limits of human memory and the digital age is its descendant. Internet access has reduced the obstacles to gaining information resources. A publication going out of print does not mean it will cease to exist because online content is no less real than its printed counterpart. The decline of the print media industry is unfortunate, but it is not a death sentence. The loss of the institution is inevitable but its intention remains with us, and it would be against our interests to stop the presses for nothing new.
Photo: Raimund Nel