The death of print media in South Africa

For decades, people have relied on print media. Newspapers providing up to date news, business marketing and worldwide happenings.

But is print media dying? While the newspaper industry has always been cyclical, in recent years newspaper circulation has dropped. Why is there a decline in circulation though? Are people showing less interest in their surroundings and world events? The answer is no, people still crave news, just as much as they did 100 years ago, if not more.

However, the evolution of technology proved that print media was a good start, but sadly does not hold a candle to the effect and connectivity of digital media, for an array of reasons. The decline first began with the radio and then again in the 1950s, with the arrival of the television. Newspapers and magazines adjusted and evolved to ensure that print media did not fade into the darkness…however

In the 1990s, the Internet came onto the scene. It was then that things started changing, the newspaper slowly losing dominance.

In 2017, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) of South Africa released newspaper-circulation statistics for the period of JULY–SEPTEMBER 2017. The key insights of the statistics paints a bleak picture. The total newspaper circulation declined by 1.5 percent during the first quarter of the year, while it dropped by 6 per cent the previous year.

This rapid drop is noted when looking at the current state of print media and how they are desperately trying to keep their products alive, always arguing that print is royalty in the news world.

FYI: The Times and Sunday Times, who are the kings of newspapers, are now digital…

The study from the ABC further reflects the following:

  • Daily newspapers are down from 1 126 532, compared to 1 242 958 for the previous period.
  • Weekly papers are apparently to 486 616 from 521 678.
  • Weekend papers dropped to 1 356 674 from 1 526 592.
  • Local papers went down to 333 884 in 2017 from 357 629
  • Free papers also went down to 6 139 426 from 6 383 491


Newcastillian, Print media, Newcastle

What are the leading causes of newspapers slowly dying? What is the cause of declining ad revenue and circulation?

Here are four reasons on why print media is slowly dying out:


Readily available pieces of information are constantly being shared through various mediums, such as WhatsApp and facebook but to name a few. Furthermore, there is a cost when purchasing a newspaper, which when compared to social media or digital media, fails dismally, as they are all generally free mediums. Also, when you are travelling, you don’t always have access to that town, country or city’s print newspapers and magazines. But, you always have your car radio, cellphone or laptop on hand to peruse the latest news and info, along with a plethora of other online options, such as maps, restaurant guides and medical facilities.

Digital journalism

While major newspaper companies are relying more on the digital world, there are those who rely heavily on there  print format. Digital journalism changed the media world. It allows readers virtually instant access to information. It is also more reader friendly and allows people to express their opinion, engage and share. While the same amount of work goes into constructing an article, readers do not have to wait a week, or month for the full story, but rather moments, with updates.


Name 3 young people who don’t have a mobile phone or better yet who don’t have a smart phone or facebook account? The younger generation is more likely to steer away from print media, opting for instant news, communication and entertainment. In general, eye catching graphics coupled with videos and captions, will attract and keep the attention of modern day youth, far much more than that of print media.


100 years ago you could only receive your news from a newspaper, therefore advertising in one made perfect sense, as that was the only option for people to obtain info. However, today a part from lining bird cages or being used to light braai’s, they tend to tell tragic stories and report on “general news”, which makes them a negative choice for positive advertising and of course business news.

We as people strive constantly for bigger and better, faster and more effective, all at lower rates. We crave and demand information and for the past 2 going on 3 decades, have been evolving into screen watching, message receiving, app downloading, email sending, facebook sharing, Googling cyborgs who simply have evolved past the era of print media.

What form of media do you feel is more convenient, print media or digital media and why?

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