Evaluating Strategic Approaches to Competitive Displacement: The Case of the U.S. Newspaper Industry

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The concept of competitive displacement is central to theories of media evolution, and the threat that the Internet has posed to printed newspapers provides an ongoing case study on the topic. In particular, this situation offers an opportunity to examine the strategic efforts of print newspapers to prevent competitive displacement, as well as the effectiveness of these strategies. This article addresses these issues through an analysis of a unique data set, constructed from 20 years of newspaper circulation data, as well as data on local market characteristics, newspaper staffing and content variety, and state-level Internet penetration. Specifically, this article examines whether, and to what extent, these competitive strategies impacted local print newspaper circulation trends over this 20-year time period. This analysis focuses on the following strategic responses: (a) newspapers’ launching of online versions (a diversification strategy within the language of media evolution literature); and (b) newspapers’ efforts to cover a greater variety of subject areas, as measured by the number of editors and special editorial sections produced. (The authors characterize these as a “mimicking” strategy from media evolution literature, as this strategy essentially represents an effort to simulate the much greater content variety that readers can find online). This article examines the relationships between these circulation, strategic, and Internet penetration variables over a 20-year time period, while also taking into account relevant characteristics of local newspaper markets.






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Mierzejewska, BI, D Yim, PM Napoli, HC Lucas and A Al-Hasan (2017). Evaluating Strategic Approaches to Competitive Displacement: The Case of the U.S. Newspaper Industry. Journal of Media Economics, 30(1). pp. 19–30. 10.1080/08997764.2017.1281817 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13893.

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Philip Michael Napoli

James R. Shepley Distinguished Professor of Public Policy

Philip M. Napoli is the James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy, Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy, and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research for the Sanford School.  He also serves as a Docent at the University of Helsinki.

Professor Napoli's research focuses on media institutions and media regulation and policy.  He has provided formal and informal expert testimony on these topics to government bodies such as the U.S. Senate, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Congressional Research Service. 

Professor Napoli is the author of four books: Foundations of Communications Policy: Principles and Process in the Regulation of Electronic Media (Hampton Press, 2001); Audience Economics: Media Institutions and the Audience Marketplace (Columbia University Press, 2003) (winner of the Robert Picard Award for the Best Book in Media Management and Economics from the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication); Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences (Columbia University Press, 2011), and Social Media and the Public Interest: Media Regulation in the Disinformation Age (Columbia University, 2019)  He is also the editor of Media Diversity and Localism: Meaning and Metrics (Routledge, 2007) and co-editor with Minna Aslama of Communications Research in Action: Scholar-Activist Collaborations for a Democratic Public Sphere (Fordham University Press, 2011).  Professor Napoli has also published over 50 articles in legal, public policy, journalism, and communication journals; as well as over 30 invited book chapters in edited collections. 

Professor Napoli's research has received awards from the National Business and Economics Society, the Broadcast Education Association, the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association, and has been cited in a number of government proceedings and reports.  His research has been funded by organizations such as the Ford Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the Center for American Progress.  His current project, funded by the Democracy Fund, is the News Measures Research Project, which focuses on developing new approaches to assessing the health of local journalism ecosystems, in an effort to identify the community characteristics that impact the health of local journalism.

Professor Napoli is a firm believer in engaged scholarship, and has engaged in research consultations and collaborations with a wide range of organizations, including the Federal Communications Commission, the New America Foundation, Free Press, the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, the Center for Creative Voices in Media, Internews, the American Television Alliance, the National Association of Broadcasters, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.  He has been interviewed in media outlets such as the NBC Nightly News, the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Politico, and National Public Radio.

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