We here at FishbowlLA think we may have solved a big mystery. For more than a decade, the majority of newspapers in America have given their print content away online for free. How in the world did they manage to do that and stay in business? Well, according to a study by the Pew Internet Project, one in five Americans still don’t use the Internet. Of that one in five, half don’t go online because “they don’t think the Internet is relevant to them.” That equals 30 million Americans who don’t think that newfangled Internetz is worth all the hubbub. Not a bad pot of people to sell newspapers to.
According to Pew, that 30 million chunk largely consists of the elderly, Spanish-speaking Americans, and those making under $30,000. But don’t count on that demographic staying Internet-free for long. Eighty-eight percent of Americans have a cell phone, and with Internet capabilities emerging on almost all new phone models, Spanish-speaking kids and the youth of lower income households are starting to access the Internet without the need for an expensive computer. The elderly don’t give a crap about the Internet, but…well…they aren’t going to be around forever.
Technology is eliminating the Internet income gap. Which is a good thing. But for newspapers, the rush to monetize web content is only getting more dire.