Reflecting a broader trend across the developed world, Italy’s newspaper industry is facing a very bleak future. According to reports in Italian media, newspaper sales have plunged by 1 million over the past five years. Moreover, according to Alla Federazione Italiana Editori Giornali (FIEG), the national federation of newspaper and magazine publishers, newspaper advertising plummeted by 14.3 percent last year, making it the worst year for Italian broadsheets in two decades.
On the whole, sales of daily newspapers fell by 6.6 percent, while sales of weeklies slipped by 6.4 percent in 2012. A number of factors have been proposed to explain the dramatic loss of interest in newspapers: the inexorable rise of the Internet, the ongoing economic crisis in Italy and in Europe as a whole, and problems with distribution.
Indeed, online news media advertising jumped by 5.3 percent last year – but, overall, newspapers reported a 9 percent drop in revenues. Similarly, Italian magazines recorded a 9.5 percent decline in revenues. Another survey by Audipress, which conducts polls for the publishing industry, found the number of people who read Italian newspapers daily dropped by 14.8 percent last year.
In an “open letter to the government,” FIEG demanded that Rome enact “radical reforms” to save the newspaper business and to "prevent the expansion of new media from threatening traditional outlets." Giulio Anselmi, the president of FIEG and also the chairman of ANSA news agency, asked the government to, among other things, provide new tax incentives “to encourage the recovery of advertising expenditure and to spread the practice of reading newspapers among young people.”
A report in The European Magazine painted a grim picture of the continent’s newspaper industry: “The Internet is taking a bigger and bigger share of the declining market: eBay has slaughtered classified advertising; Google search substitutes for display ads; recruitment websites have decimated the job ads which once sustained many newspapers. Moreover, electronic media are increasingly displacing newspapers as news sources particularly among the young.”
For example, in 2013, advertising revenues for British newspapers are expected to fall by 9 percent. Between 2005 and 2012, the UK saw 242 local newspapers vanish.