Read the Trades? Industry Publication Readership Survey

Industry Publications Still Valued Amid Shifting Media Landscape

It’s no secret the publishing business, especially the newspaper business, is under tremendous stress. The news industry faces, on one hand, growing pressure from the demanding investors that now own many media companies and on the other, shrinking advertising revenue and internet giants that dominate page-clicks and the money that comes with them.

Caught on the publishing fringes are the long-time specialists in business news and information: the trade magazines and the business models they adopted to survive in today’s online information world.

Business people still seek out business journalism and industry expertise from specialty publishers. Where they go for that information is a question that remains. A recent survey by Dan Larson Communications sheds some light on reading habits of business people.

“Business readers still seek out
original news reporting and expert information”

According to the survey conducted in early January, the traditional printed trade magazine, a staple of business news for decades, is still widely read although it is no longer seen as the most valuable medium for business readers.

Chart: Trade magazine readership

Digital magazines, often identical to a printed journal but available online by email download or through a paywall, fared better in our survey with two of three saying they regularly read them.

Reflecting a shift in reading habits, however, a wide majority of respondents say they regularly read and get the most value from online original articles or expert blogs. This was followed closely in readership by online news digests or summaries, which are also considered the most valuable source of business information by those in our survey.

When asked which trade medium they valued the highest between print, digital, original online, or online business news digests, readers chose online digests at twice the rate of print and original online.

What is clear is that even in a news environment increasingly dominated by social media, business readers still seek out original news reporting and expert information specific to their industry, the study concludes.

What has changed is where business readers go for that information.

According to Trade Press Services, a marketing firm based in California, the shift of advertising dollars away from traditional print publications to online news sources has forced publishers to print fewer pages, resulting in less original stories and as a result, a product that is considered less valuable to readers.

That dilemma is clearly reflected in the response to our question asking how much is reasonable for a subscription to valuable information written for a specific, narrow audience. While many industries employ the expertise of specialists earning thousands for consulting and services, a majority of survey respondents said $100 or less is reasonable for an annual subscription.

It is now up to the specialty and trade publishers to find a formula for producing valuable, original content for their readers at a subscription rate readers find to be reasonable.

Dan Larson Communications is an independent journalism and public relations consultancy based in Wheat Ridge, CO.  Visit