Regional publisher Johnston Press is nearing a “tipping point” at which digital revenue growth outstrips print revenue decline, one of its senior executives said today.
Paul Napier, group editorial development director for JP, made the claim during the opening session of the Society of Editors Conference in Southampton looking at changing business models in the industry.
He said that the gap between digital revenue growth and print revenue decline was now in “low single figures.”
Paul also said it was “unlikely” that the company would reconsider the introduction of online paywalls, but raised the prospect of introducing a form of registration as a data-capture exercise.
He told the conference that Johnston Press was “very close’ to the point where growing digital revenues outstrip falling print revenues. It is in low single figures, we are close that tipping point.”
Last week’s interim management statement revealed that the rate of print revenue decline at JP slowed from 4.5pc in the first half of 2014 to 3.1pc in the third quarter, while digital revenues continued to grow by 19pc, although no actual revenue figures were given.
During the conference session Paul was also asked whether JP had any further plans to introduce online paywalls, following an abortive experiment five years ago.
He responded: “You are unlikely to see paywalls (but) we are likely to play with some sort of data registration process.”
Paul also echoed recent comments by JP chief executive Ashley Highfield suggesting that increasing the amount of user-generated content in newspapers would release staff for serious investigative journalism.
“There are efficiencies to be found in newsprint freeing up staff to do other things,” he said.
“There is still some space to do public interest journalism, but funded by a mass audience business model,” he added.