The oxygen that’s running out

“We are in a disastrous spiral.” That’s how Pat Henderson described it, and he had no shortage of reasons for his bitterness.

The executive of Quad/Graphic, one of the North American companies dedicated to the printing and publishing business, put his finger on the sore of a problem that is getting worse every day.

That of the paper crisis, which has been besieging the world of newspapers, magazines and other publications for more than five years and that now, with the Covid pandemic, is progressively cutting off the oxygen of life.

Since the price hikes for a ton of paper took place three years ago, the highest in a decade, the supply of this raw material has been declining as written media disappear or their publication days are reduced.

These three factors, low production, high costs and the extinction of publications, illustrate the dilemmatic horizon that is looming for the written press, also affected by the digital reconversion processes that, in one way or another, mitigate this worrying course.

This low supply and the scarcity of the input have forced many newspapers to reduce their formats, their paging and their publication frequencies, which in turn leads to loss of income from advertising, sales at the proclamation and subscriptions.

This crisis places them, necessarily, in an anteroom of fog that can only be exited if a business model is assumed and a refocusing towards quality and in-depth content that guarantees sustainability.

Naturally, as long as we do not lack the vital oxygen that paper represents, without which printed newspapers would not exist.

As we weather the crisis, we must not forget that the best ally of the professional written press is its status as an indisputable source of truthfulness and reliability, the most demanded raw material by an audience that seeks the truth and the credible in a sphere of news atomized by false or manipulated information.

  • Translated from Spanish by Randy Rodriguez.