Newspapers Don’t Sell Because No News

27Nov08

That is what a newspaper seller at City Hall told us today.

According to him, 6 years ago he could sell 800 copies of the Chinese tabloids Shin Min and Wan Bao, 400 copies of The New Paper (TNP) and 80 copies of The Straits Time (ST). Today, he only sells 250 copies of Shin Min and Wan Bao, struggles to sell 100 copies of TNP and only 20 copies of ST.

The reason he concludes is simple: there is no news that the reader can relate to. In fact, he hardly bothers flipping through the newspapers he sells nowadays, something he would do religiously in the past. Today’s newspapers publish too much news on celebrities and scandals instead of reporting “real news” like the protests in Bangkok.

“A celebrity drops a strand of hair and they can report it for two weeks!” he exclaims in Chinese.

And I thought I was the only one who thought like that.

Although I am wondering if such sentiments are unique to the older generation because they are after all less apathetic than us and saw through a period of revolutionary times. Perhaps it is not that the newspapers are getting it wrong, but their target readers today are you and me, whom many (not me) see news as lifestyle issues rather than what this newspaper seller thinks is news.

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2 Responses to “Newspapers Don’t Sell Because No News”

  1. 1 jamie

    I hate to sound like the one championing the newspapers (because I am) but couldn’t the reason just be that more readers are subscribers now? Newsstand sales are less relevant in Sg than US for example because competition is non-existent.

  2. Thanks for the reality check… although I’m thinking do folks really subscribe to the evening newspapers like Wan Bao and Shin Min. To me, these papers are usually read by the working class… and so to a certain extent, it discounts the idea that they may read news online too.

    So maybe people just read less in general, preferring to receive their news from TV? I wonder if anyone has done research on the numbers here yet.


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