Newspapers remain top source of info

MANILA, Philippines—Metro Manila residents, whether young or old, are still largely getting their information fix from newspapers, according to market research firm Synovate.

“Are newspapers dead? No. In fact, newspapers continue to play a very important role in the lives of the better informed,” Synovate executive director for media Steve Garton told reporters yesterday.

Garton added that Internet penetration in the Philippines was still too low for people to shift to the Web for their news.

The latest Synovate Media Atlas said newspaper reach was highest among those in the AB economic bracket at 62 percent, followed by the C+ bracket at 48 percent, and the C- bracket at 38 percent.

For the survey, 829 people aged 15-64 from all income brackets across urban areas nationwide were interviewed.

Online presence

But Garton said that while the outlook for the Philippine newspaper industry remained rosy, publishers should be proactive enough to complement their print editions with online versions, and even social networking tools that would attract more readers, particularly the youth.

“Traditional media have become mainstream media in the sense that they are now operating across platforms. Newspapers continue to occupy an important place in the lives of people with high spending power, but there has been some decline—around 2 percent—in newspaper readership from last year,” Garton said.

“The challenge for publishers is to provide best-in-class news both in print and online. This will serve the needs of the ‘on-demand’ generation. Social media services and platforms should also be explored. Traditional media have been forced to embrace online and mobile platforms,” he said.

But developing an online presence does not mean merely making a copy of the newspaper’s print version available online, Garton warned.

He said the online edition should also be able to offer its own content different from stories found in the newspaper.

Also, the popularity of social networking in the Philippines should also prompt publications to explore this avenue, Garton said.

He said breaking news, for example, could be channeled through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, the mobile phone, and mobile devices such as the iPad.

Core business

But offering complementary services should not alter a newspaper’s thrust to provide in-depth news coverage, Garton said.

“Newspapers have to carry on doing its core business well. Don’t ever abandon doing a superb job in print. Newspapers command the most discriminating audience—the informed, upscale audience,” he said, adding:

“The online strategy is for building a younger audience. A lot more effort needs to be done here. Make your online presence more interactive.” –Abigail L. Ho, Philippine Daily Inquirer