Newspaper subscriptions may be waning in places where digital technology has been widely adopted and online news is quite literally at your fingertips at all times by means of smartphone technology, but this isn’t the case across the globe.

 

Newspaper subscriptions may be waning in places where digital technology has been widely adopted and online news is quite literally at your fingertips at all times by means of smartphone technology, but this isn’t the case across the globe.

A story in the International Business Times last week indicates that in developing countries where literacy rates have risen with economic growth, newspapers are doing well. So well, in fact, that the three countries with the highest paid circulation—India, China and Japan—make up more than half of the world’s total percentage of paid circulation. And while these three countries are among the most populous in the world, according to the most recent data from the CIA Factbook, combined, the three countries account to roughly 37 per cent of the world’s population.

Over a five-year period of 2006-2010, the United States witnessed a paid circulation decline of 17 per cent. Europe fared even worse, with a decline of 33 per cent. In that same time period, Asia’s paid circulation increased 16 per cent, IBI reported.

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IBI notes that these are areas without mass access to Internet, but with the economic growth to spur literacy rates. In other developing countries, such as some in sub-Saharan Africa, despite the adoption of mobile technology over technology such as computers and landlines, radio is the most effective means of communication due to the oral nature of many cultures and a low literacy rates, especially in women and those in rural areas.  And in some Middle Eastern countries, the use of mobile technology has been well-documented since the Arab Spring. 

Is online news—in the form that much of the West is trying to make profitable—a destination for a media development trajectory that all of these countries will one day end up at? Or is that merely Western-centric thinking, and different countries, regions and groups of people will stick to communications that they know such as newspapers and radio? 

Let us know in the comments or tweet us @jsource.