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Media Industries Development Scenario

Abstract

A public relations research paper which details the current scenario of electronic media and print media in the Asian countries of Australia, Malaysia and Japan. The newspapers for Malaysia, Australia and Japan are The Star, The Sun Herald and the Asahi respectively. Their online and print presence is analyzed and the growth pattern of their online and print media is correlated. Finally, the advantage of electronic media in form of online media publications is highlighted, to encourage PR professionals to integrate online media avenues in their future marketing and promotional endeavors.

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Introduction

The internet has now become one of the most dominant media in the world today. It has touched almost all spheres of entertainment, education and commerce and is most likely to replace traditional media in the near future. Internet advertising and internet publishing is now affecting the market share of traditional media and publication channels. One of the most threatened traditional media channels at this juncture are newspapers. It is speculated that the US newspaper market will dwindle in the next ten years, as an effect to the soaring popularity of online media. The decline in newspapers can range from 5% to as much as 25% in the next few years. Nonetheless, the effect of the internet on newspapers varies from region to region. In countries such as Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom, the threat is comparatively lower than it is in the US. In the Asian and South American countries, the threat level is even lower, partly owing to the fact that internet access is limited in the developing nations of Asia and Latin America.

This report is intended to give a clearer picture of the current scenario of the print and the electronic media industries, especially in Asia. The report also juxtaposes electronic media with traditional media, and attempts to highlight the feasibility of electronic media in today’s age. A text analysis on the print and electronic media of three Asian countries Japan, Malaysia and Australia are conducted in this report, which will enable the PR practitioners to comprehend the benefits of this emerging media and utilize online media for their future marketing and communication activities.

Main Body

The first few pages of the report elaborate on the pros and cons of traditional media in form of newspapers and electronic media in the form of online publications. The report then goes on to discuss three publication companies of Japan, Malaysia and Australia. Their print and online circulation is analyzed and the results are then correlated.

AMCB 2005, states that ‘the role of media, particularly newspapers and magazines in native languages in South Asia is very interesting.’ Print media in the shape of newspapers and magazines have always been the most important communication vehicle for journalists and people belonging to the entertainment industry. Print media designs can be intricate and attractive, and can still create a bigger impact than electronic media such as websites and television can. About two decades ago, when a person needed to get updated with the latest news and happenings in his region or around the world, newspapers were the only option. But now, there is another kind of media which is providing a more dynamic and interactive approach to reading the news: the internet. Convergence is the new word in media today. Cunningham and Turner 2000, mention the importance of functional convergence in today’s world.

The internet is one of the fastest growing communication mediums in the world today. It has a number of advantages over the traditional print media and that’s why more and more people nowadays are using it. Comparing a newspaper (print media) with an e-newspaper (electronic media), we will find that e-newspapers have a number of advantages. First of all, the internet has unlimited space, so the amount of content it can hold is comparatively larger than what a newspaper can hold. Secondly, the publication of news is much faster in one media than in traditional media. Thirdly, the reading experience can be greatly enhanced in electronic media with the help of colors, video and sound (Berger, 1998). Next, electronic media is more interactive and facilitates faster communication with other readers as well as the editors. In the long run, electronic media is cheaper than traditional media too. Last but not the least; an e-newspaper is accessible globally because it’s on the internet, whereas a traditional newspaper has limited access.

According to Breslin 2007, e- Newspapers have their disadvantages too, but they are just a few. The first disadvantage of e-newspapers is that they might get lost or the news article might be deleted. Hence, it cannot be archived as well as traditional newspapers can. Secondly, several journalists and editors have a mental block towards e-newspapers and magazines. They feel news should be communicated in form of newspapers, as it’s traditional. Probably that is the reason why number of successful newspapers do not have an online presence on the net (ANC, 2006).

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Printed materials have their share of advantages also. First of all, printed material such as a newspaper uses a technology which is time tested and is stable. Printed materials are tangible too and hence are easy to store and archive. Traditional newspapers are still more portable than electronic media and can easily be carried around. Reading from the internet requires scrolling the pages. So it’s a scrolling experience which is two dimensional as opposed to a print material which is three dimensional and the graphics and layout are rendered in a way which allows the eye to shift from overview of the news to details of the news in a second. Another important advantage of printed material is their inherent security features. Although newspapers don’t require any security because there isn’t any confidential information in it, other printed materials such as bank documents do. This gives printed material an edge over electronic media, which is mired by security issues. According to Gross 2009, there is a fair bit of history associated with the print media like the newspaper. The history of newspapers goes back a few centuries, making traditional newspapers a preferred choice among people who are habituated with newspapers or the people who are not internet savvy. These are some of the reasons which maintain the popularity of newspapers even in this era, where the internet has permeated almost every aspect of our lives.

Surveys conducted around the world are showing a change of global preferences, regarding print and electronic media. Surprisingly, the sale of English-language newspapers has dropped almost 11% since 1990 in the United States. In Australia, the scenario is even worse. Surveys have shown that the popularity of traditional media such as television and newspapers has dropped 34% from 1998. However, the last decade has witnessed a sharp rise in the circulation of traditional media in ethnic languages. The Spanish newspaper market has grown dramatically in the last ten years. In the United States, more than five hundred Asian media outlets have been opened and the number keeps increasing every month (Medoff, 2004).

In many ways, the rise of internet news affected the sale of newspapers and magazines. In the US, more than 55% of internet users aged between 18 and 34 keep themselves abreast with the latest happenings through online news, according to UCLA. Furthermore, an IABC survey has revealed that print materials are increasingly being replaced by websites, emails, electronic newsletters and DVD’s.

The Star is Malaysia’s leading English language daily. The daily was first published in Penang in 1971. In only five years, the star was successful in beating the 140 year old new straits times as the Malaysia’s best selling newspaper. The star has been named by the Audit Bureau of circulations, Malaysia as the leading English language newspaper in Malaysia. The daily circulation estimated by the Audit Bureau is somewhere between 290000, and 300,000. Moreover, the Asahi News Network has made The Star one of the members (Turow, 2008). The Malaysian Chinese Association, which happens to be the second largest party in the present alliance called Barisan Nasional, are the owners of the star Malaysia. The two other competitors of the star are the new straits, times and the Sun, which is basically a tabloid in the English language. The daughter of the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed, Marina Mahathir writes a biweekly column for the star.

The star and the Sunday star are published in four editions and the printing plants of Star Media Hub and Star Northern Hub handle the printing job of all four editions. The paper contains three segments: the Star Biz, Star Two and the main paper. The main paper consists of international and local news stories while the Star Two compromises of articles in entertainment, recreation and lifestyle. Star Biz on the other hand covers the latest business headlines and articles. Many people have expressed their disappointment with the Star’s new page layout. They feel the number of advertisements in the paper have increased, and as a counterbalance to the excessive advertisements, unnecessary articles are being added in the paper, making it bulkier but not adding any true value.

The newspaper offers weekly sections as well. The Star Maritime (Monday) covers shipping and maritime trade news, Star in Tech (Tuesday and Thursday) focuses on information technology, Youth 2(Thursday) is meant for the young generation and star Weekend (Weekends) contains travel and leisure write-ups. Additionally, the Star Biz Week (Saturday) is also offered, which is a weekly business magazine. Star Metro and the Star Mag are two other newspaper supplements which are offered to the readers of The Star also. The Sunday Star is the special weekend edition of the Star which comes with added with an Education and Career section and an extensive ‘Your Lifestyle Companion’ section.

Readership/Circulation of the Star and Sunday Star
Readership/Circulation of the Star and Sunday Star. Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, Malaysia – 1st Jul 2007 – 30th Jun 2008

The company has moved its headquarters to Petaling Jaya from Kuala Lumpur to accommodate the growing number of employees. In 1995, the Star publication hit the headlines for launching their World Wide Web Star newspaper edition, since the Star was the first Malaysian publishing house to do so and the third newspaper company in Asia to have a web edition of their newspaper.Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, Malaysia – 1st Jul 2007 – 30th Jun 2008

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The Herald Sun is Australia’s top selling daily which was first published in 1990, and the Herald and Weekly Times (HWT) publishes three of its popular publications-the Herald Times, The Sunday Herald and the Weekly Times. All of these titles are printed at the Port Melbourne print site. The HWT also prints the Tasmania and Victoria editions of The Australian and Sunday Telegraph. The Herald Sun is considered to be one of the world’s most successful dailies, in market penetration and circulation, selling more than 500,000 copies each day. The readership of the Herald Sun crosses 1.5 million people.

The publishers of the Herald times are The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, which is a subsidiary company of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited. The Herald Sun is predominantly circulated in Melbourne and other parts of the state Victoria, Australia. Several of the news articles in the Herald Sun are exclusive while some of the articles are shared with other newspapers circulated in Australia belonging to News Limited. The Herald Sun is by far the highest selling newspaper in all of Australia, ahead of other dailies such as The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, The Daily Telegraph and The Age.

The Herald and Weekly Times Company has made a huge investment recently, spending more than $300 million for its Port Melbourne print site and its Southgate precinct headquarters in Melbourne. The HWT supports a number of events and causes throughout Australia. The Herald Sun also boasts of an updated website, which is based on the Web 2.0 technology. The website incorporates a social media content management system (CMS) by the name of Matchbin, which helps Herald Sun to be an online community newspaper.

According to Silverman 2004, some critics of the Herald Sun point out that the newspaper has a bias towards the right-wing. Some even believe the newspaper reflects the tastes of Rupert Murdoch, the chief executive officer of the parent company of Herald Sun. The new Herald and Weekly Times website allows people to contribute content, making the website extremely reader friendly and interactive. The objective of Herald Sun’s web presence was to make the e-newspaper develop an online community, which it has succeeded in creating in a few years. The Herald Sun website is growing in popularity and offers HWT a major portion of its advertising revenues. The Herald Sun website is also growing at a remarkable pace. From 2006 to 2007, the ‘heraldsun.com.au’ website has grown 44.8%. Interestingly, the data revealed by Alexa.com shows that the Herald Sun’s maximum percentage of web traffic comes from outside Australia. Australia only contributes to about 10% of the web traffic.

One of Japan’s leading newspaper companies for several years has been the Asahi Shimbun Company, which truly has a long history. The first edition of the Asahi was published in 1879, and since then, the newspaper company has grown from strength to strength. The newspaper has a large readership and is one of the most trusted and informative newspapers in the country. The Asahi Shimbun is among the top five circulated newspapers in Japan. It’s second only to Yomiuri Shimbun in terms of readership and circulation. Asahi Shimbun has a daily circulation of around 8 million and is associated with the television network TV Asahi. Mainichi Shimbun is the third ranked newspaper, while Nikkei Shimbun and Sankei Shimbun are ranked fourth and fifth respectively. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper is also affiliated to the New York Times owned International Herald Tribune. What’s more, Asahi Shimbun also shares a partnership with the Communist Party of China’s official newspaper, People’s Daily. A survey conducted in 1994 named Asahi Shimbun as one of the world’s eight best newspapers. The others on the list were El Espectador of Colombia, The New York Times of the United States, Izvestia of Russia, Al Ahram of Egypt, and Times of India, People’s Daily of China and Financial Times of the United Kingdom.

The Asahi Shimbun publishes the morning papers and the evening papers, for which he readership is 8 million and 3.4 million copies respectively. The company has five domestic publishing offices in Osaka, Nagoya, Hokkaido, Seibu and Tokyo. There are overseas publishing offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, Heerlen, Hong Kong and Singapore. The headlines which were printed in the Asahi Times from the year 1945 to 1999, has been indexed in a CD-ROM database which a number of libraries and universities use.

Advertising Expenditures in Japan
Source: Dentsu, 2006 Advertising Expenditures in Japan

The Asahi Shimbun allows readers to access international as well as local Japanese news in one newspaper. The readers of Asahi Shimbun are 45% non-Japanese and 55% Japanese. Most importantly, business decision makers and top level corporate are one of its primary readers, making the newspaper more valuable. What’s more, the Asahi newspaper reaches a major segment of affluent Japanese people and also the Nikkei subscribers. Almost 20% of Nikkei subscribers read Asahi Times. The Asahi also publishes a few weekly magazines. The Shukan Asahi and the AERA are two trendsetters in the Japanese magazine industry.

The Asahi.com website was launched by the company in 1995, and now the website has almost 10 million visitors each month. The website is based on the latest web technology and incorporates rich media and graphical content, helping to make the online version of the paper Japan’s number one online news website. The Asahi website also succeeds in capturing all the target segments by strategically structuring its website in a number of segments. The segments or web pages range from education, lifestyle, business, sports to technology, cars, classifieds and travel. This wide range of topics ensures that the Asahi website gets a number of advertisements from a variety of companies, thereby assisting the website to earn revenues for the Asahi Shimbun group.

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In Australia, the newspapers and their online counterparts enjoy a high readership. However, it’s been noted that the overlap in the readership of traditional newspapers and it’s online version is 20%. Hence, the readers of the Morning Herald and the ‘smg.com.au’ are 20% common. The Australian newspaper Herald Sun had a circulation of 600,000 but in the 1990’s the circulation had plummeted to 200,000. This was primarily caused by the impact of satellite television in the 1990’s. Eventually, the Herald and the weekly Times merged to form the Herald Times, as a direct consequence of the cable television. This statistic shows how vulnerable traditional media like newspapers have always been to the influence of emerging media such as television and online media.

Daily Page Views of Australian Online Newspapers
Daily Page Views of Australian Online Newspapers. Source: Alexa.com

The Australian newspaper market though will not be as affected by the internet phenomena, and experts predict that the Australian advertising market will be worth $12 billion in 2013, in which the major medium for advertising being the newspaper medium ($ 3.9 billion). The online advertising medium on the other hand will grow exponentially and will contribute almost $3 billion to the Australian advertising industry. Currently, the online medium generates about $1.9 billion for the advertising industry, so the growth rate of the online media clearly indicates that online media will dominate the Australian advertising and Media industry in a decade’s time.

In Japan, the explosion of the internet and the internet culture has been more pronounced. It is partly because of the Japanese government’s new communication plans. Davie, 2005, states that, the new respectability of the press was in part a logical accompaniment to party rule. In the 1990’s, the government helped in the propagation and expansion of communication networks such as fiber optics, mobile networks, satellites and wireless throughout Japan. This established the internet infrastructure and assisted in the rapid growth of the internet. By 2000, Japan was one of the world’s leading internet savvy countries. This led to a major change in the media industry in Japan.

Traditional media companies now know that diversifying into the electronic medium is imperative for them to survive. The online media has already impacted the newspaper and magazine publications in Japan. In the last couple of years, around 170 magazines and publications have been suspended in Japan, which is a record (Ryan, 2004). However, a recent research conducted by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) gives a glimmer of hope to the Japanese print media industry. Japan has featured among the top five countries with a growing newspaper market. China topped the list with 93.5 million copies. India was second with 78.8 million followed by Japan in the third position with 70.4 million copies.

The distribution network of newspapers and magazines in Japan has also been affected by the rapid growth of the online media. Although more than 300 bookstores were opened in the last two years, about 100 bookstores were closed down. These disappointing statistics for the print media in Japan are largely due to the popularity of online books and online publication sites in Japan. The number of online bookstores from 2006 to 2008 has risen 30%, and a sale of 40 billion yen has been registered. This testifies online media’s reach and its increasing acceptability among the Japanese people.

In Malaysia, the circulation of newspapers is rising from 1998. It seems that Malaysia hasn’t yet been affected greatly by the internet revolution as much as other countries such as the US and UK have. A research study by Nielsen Media index conducted from 1996 to 2008 has shown that the newspaper circulation has remained steady in Malaysia despite the rising popularity of the internet. Another report published by the Omnicom Media Group’s PHD agency has shown that internet browsing times for Malaysian has risen from three hours in 2006 to four and a half hours in 2008. This survey proves that the electronic media is growing faster than traditional media such as newspapers in Malaysia. However PHD thinks there’s a positive for the print media in Malaysia. Since Malaysians are apparently good in multi-tasking, the internet will not completely overshadow the print media in the next few years.

The reach of newspapers in Malaysia is also about 50% for all the age groups. The PHD has also found that people over the age of 30 read newspapers for an hour daily whereas teenagers spend around half an hour each day on the newspaper. Since about 40% of young Malaysian spend time on the internet as compared to 7% for Malaysians over 30, the reason why the young adults spend so less time reading the newspaper is quite evident. Another surprising data collected in 2008 is that Malaysians aged over 50 spend as much time on the internet as teenagers do.

The data collected in Malaysia points at the growing popularity of the internet among the young age groups. Nielsen Media Index has suggested that traditional media such as newspapers need to use the internet as another channel of promoting news. Online forms, social networking and feedback are important features that traditional media companies in Malaysia need to integrate in their marketing strategy.

According to Priest 2009, the print and electronic media data for all the three Asian countries (Malaysia, Japan and Australia) suggest that traditional media isn’t in the same position as it was in the past. The mass media in all the three countries is gradually moving to multi-stream from mainstream. Online media is the new and emerging media which is cutting across all demographic and socio-economic barriers in Asian countries. The UCLA has found that about 60% of internet users who are aged between 18 and 34 read the news online.

Conclusion

There are some traditionalists who firmly believe that the future of the newspapers and magazine are not as gloomy as predicted by market research agencies. Just as the advent of the television in mid 20th century couldn’t bring down the market share of newspapers, so won’t the internet. Undoubtedly, newspapers have their unique attributes such as immediacy, credence, consistency, portability and creativity which hardly any other media can match. The unique features of newspapers could help them survive in the next decade or so. Nevertheless, PR professionals should recognize electronic media as an important part of their promotional campaign, because electronic media will eventually overshadow the traditional media avenues (Kipphan, 2004).

Reference list

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Breslin, J.R. (2007). Making media: Foundations of sound and image production. Boston: Focal Press.

Cunningham. S., & Turner, G.(2000). The media and communications in Australia. Australia: Griffin Press.

Davie, W.R. (2005). Principles of electronic media. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Gross, L.S.(2009). Electronic media: An introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kipphan, H.(2004) Handbook of print media. New York: Spinger.

Medoff, N. (2004). Electronic media: then, now, and later. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Priest, S.R. (2009). Doing media research: An introduction. California: Sage Publications.

Ryan, M. (2004). Writing for print and digital media. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Silverman, D. (2004). Doing qualitative research. California: Sage Publications.

Turow, J. (2008). Media today: An introduction to mass communication. New York: Taylor & Francis.

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