Sale of the Financial Times a sign of the health of newspapers

Morning View
Morning View
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As anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the media will know, these have been challenging times for newspapers.

Print papers have been a much-loved part of European societies for more than 300 years.

This newspaper is famously the oldest of the English language daily titles in the world, having been founded in 1737.

Last year and the year before we serialised the earliest surviving copies of the Belfast News Letter, from 1738 and 1739, on the 275th year after each article appeared.

The project illustrated how in one respect the appetite for newspapers has changed little. Then, as now, readers expected thousands of words of news under a masthead, with various stories marked off under different headlines.

Then, as now, the news in each edition ranged from what might now be described as celebrity stories to foreign affairs to crime reports to leisure news to property advertising.

There was financial news too.

Yesterday it emerged that the much-respected Financial Times was being sold to the Japanese company Nikkei for £844 million. The FT was established 150 years after the News Letter, and its success gives the lie to the notion that papers are doomed. It has been a commercial triumph, making money from both its print and digital editions.

Even much smaller newspapers such as this one are rapidly adapting to the internet age with complementary print and online editions. The News Letter publisher, Johnston Press, recently launched the snazzy site Belfast Vibe (belfastvibe.com) aimed at younger audiences that grew up with the web.

On the News Letter itself, some stories can attract tens of thousands of readers online, more than on certain days might buy the print product.

So after a nervous period, it seems newspapers are here to stay, albeit still figuring their way through the exciting new environment. People want news from trusted sources and in papers and their offshoots, they know it’s what they get.