Trees rejoice

Trees rejoice

: The Wall Street Journal (free link) says newspaper circulation is taking a dive:

Circulation numbers to be released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulations probably will show industrywide declines of 1% to 3%, according to people familiar with the situation — possibly the highest for daily newspapers since the industry shed 2.6% of subscribers in 1990-91.

If they depend just on the old, big, one-size-fits-all product then, yes, that’s bad news. And if, in the case of one of at least one of the companies listed in the story, a big drop comes from cleaning up circ fraud, well, that’s very bad news.

But if print media spread out across new media — online, mobile, multimedia — and new, niche products — ethnic, entertainment, handout — then that’s good news: the mass market becomes the mass of niches; the audience is served where and when it wants to be served. And if that happens, circulation in the big, one-size-fits-all print products will decline and it will not be bad news. Lot of if’s there.

: The Journal also has an online poll asking: “What is the main reason for declines in newspaper circulation?: Diminished quality; Online alternatives; Hassle of recycling; Biased reporting; Something else.” Online is the clear winner at this hour.