Print newspapers are alive and kicking in Brazil, where circulation continues to grow despite the economic crisis, but editors here warn they must offer readers deeper perspective and analysis.
Brazilian newspapers' average daily circulation grew around 2.3 percent to 4.5 million in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year, according to data from the Circulation Verification Institute (IVC).
Advertising revenue is also up, in contrast to most markets in the developed world, where rates crashed as advertisers took their business to the web.
But Internet advertising is growing faster in Brazil than print, and is expected to surpass it in 2015, according to Wark International Ad Forecast.
Brazilian print newspapers had an advertising gross turnover of about 1.62 billion dollars in 2010, against 608 million dollars for websites.
The figure for print showed growth of 3.4 percent compared to 2009, while the web was up 27.96 percent over the same period, according to Meio and Mensagem, a group that analyzes media trends.
So traditional newspapers are holding on better than their North American or European peers, but they still have to revise their strategies if this is to continue, editors said at an event this week.
Given the avalanche of news on other platforms, readers expect newspapers to provide "more analysis, more reporting, more opinion, a lot more debate and above all a great deal of depth," said Ascanio Seleme, O Globo news director.
"A daily cannot just publish yesterday's news. It must explain what comes next and why," he noted, during a debate organized here ahead of O Globo's launch of a new graphic design project next Sunday, when the paper turns 87.
"There is a crisis knocking at the door. We need to be prepared," he warned.
Amid a global crisis which has slowed down the Brazilian economy, O Globo is seeking to attract new readers and advertisers with a new look, new typography, more space for pictures and greater importance for supplements, he explained.
At a time when an "excessive abundance of news can produce total alienation" journalists "can be the guides," said Ricardo Gandour, content director at the daily Estado do Sao Paulo.
"We don't have to fear this role, this task of choosing, putting in context, serving the human being," he added.
Vera Brandimarte, news director at the economic daily Valor, predicted that the print newspaper would survive.
"Conservative as I am, I believe the print newspaper will survive, maybe in a more compact manner," she said. "An intellectual elite will want to pay more for this privilege. There will be changes, but the print daily will continue."
Despite the plethora of news sources on different digital platforms such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and so forth, most Brazilians now prefer to get their news from the websites of major dailies, she added.
"We have to think about the added value in deepening the themes, captivating the reader, this requires specialized staff," she noted.
And Brandimarte said the websites, which compete with news agencies in providing real-time news, are seeking "greater identification" with their daily print parents.
The goal, she added, is "to keep the reader updated throughout the day."
Meanwhile Sergio Davila, executive editor of Folha de Sao Paulo, said the print newspaper "continues to be a successful product" and reinforces "the unity of the brand" on all platforms.
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