Ken Doctor: Newspapers and GOP share demographic challenges

Nieman | Maynard Institute

Newspapers writing about Republicans' demographics problem might want to look at their own audience, Ken Doctor argues.

The print audience — the audience that still responsible for 80 percent or more of almost all newspaper companies’ revenue — strongly parallels the Romney vote in almost every category: age, ethnicity, and gender. Older, White, and male.

In the digital audience, there’s some across-the-board strength in age, but then strong parallels to the Republican dilemma in gender and ethnicity.

Using data from Scarborough Research, Doctor says newspapers capture more than their "even share" of white people across print and digital platforms, and they also overperform among all people over 45. If newspapers "fail to come to grips with the changing complexion of America," he writes, "revenues — circulation and advertising — will continue to dwindle. In fact, the changing demographics, in addition to digital disruption, help explain the sorry state of newspapering, both print and digital."

Poor newsroom diversity isn't helping, Doctor writes: "Despite many well-intentioned efforts over the years, the people creating the news look less and less like the communities they cover."

Richard Prince was also struck by parallels between the news media and the "demographic shellacking" Chuck Todd said Republicans took, noting that "advocates for diversity in the news media have been delivering these messages for years."

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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