But stop the presses: The 25-to-34-year-olds in the surveyed group
said the Internet is as trustworthy as newspapers. And more than
half of the heaviest newspaper users among young adults predicted
that in the next three years they will be accessing the Web more
"I would say [the results were] slightly grimmer than I thought
they would be, particularly in terms of the standing of newspapers,"
Brown told E&P in a telephone interview Wednesday evening. "I
think the credibility question, and the utility of newspaper --
or the lack thereof -- was really startling to me. I hope it's kind
of wake-up call for the industry."
In his report, Brown argues that traditional news outlets must
figure out ways to "engage" young people the way the Internet
does. "In short, the future of the US news industry is seriously
threatened by the irrevocable move by young people away from traditional
sources of news," he says.
As an industry, newspapers in particular are doing a poor job of
responding to these new market pressures, said Brown, a former Washington
Post reporter, "Here's this huge revenue opportunity that has
moved to Yahoo. Yahoo is having these amazing quarters. And the
newspaper industry response to that is to trim the staff of their
online news sites because they want to keep their bottom line. This
is classic business school fodder here. When somebody else is eating
your lunch, your response is to run away? The industry needs to
Brown said he is also troubled by a common industry explanation
that young people aren't reading newspapers because they're not
that interested in the news itself. The survey, conducted in May
2004 by Frank N Magid Associates, shows 18-to-34-year-olds want
news, but most of them don't see a need to get it from a newspaper.
"There's a blame-the-audience mentality in the industry,"