Steve Rubel: A Perfect Storm for Print Media?

It’s getting to the point of irrelevance…but yet another good piece with yet another reason print media is doomed…this time from Steve Rubel at Micropersuation (and Edelman Digital).

Consider this a rather simplistic theory for a Saturday morning. However, it’s my view that – as if they didn’t have enough to worry about – newspaper and magazine publishers may see a perfect storm accelerate if gas prices continue to escalate. There are three factors at work here – some go beyond the current economic situation.

For starters, as gas prices go up, so will the distribution costs. This could have a significant impact on margins. However, there are larger societal factors at bay here too.

Second, there’s a greater awareness among consumers of their environmental impact. At the Forbes Online Brand Summit earlier this year, Jeff Cole from USC Annenberg predicted that as this broadens, consumers will cut back on print in favor of digital media. I think he’s right.

So at the very same time that they’re under the toughest pressure for cost cutting they’ve ever faced, the distribution costs will go through the roof.  In fact, throughout the organization, print uses a whole lot of petrochemicals.  Think ink, think lubricants for presses, and obviously the delivery trucks.

I could go on, but this isn’t even fun anymore.  The model is broken, time to find a new delivery mechanism…oh, wait…;-)

On the other side, I’d heard about a focus group run a few years ago at The Washington Post.  As thanks for taking part, they wanted to give the participants a free subcription.  A good percentage refused.  They asked why.  The people said they didn’t want to have to deal with the old papers.  It was such an eye opener, the Post actually began looking into taking the papers back, but they found most readers didn’t even want to have to put them back outside their door to be picked up.  While anecdotal, you can see where the green concerns may really catch up with them.