SUMMIT, NJ - Michael Shapiro, Chairman of the Suburban Chamber of Commerce, had a dual role as the speaker -- providing the state of the changing world of media -- at this month's First Friday networking breakfast at the Grand Summit Hotel.
Shapiro, Founder and CEO of TAPinto.net, told the room of 40 local businessmen that media is changing dramatically. Hard copy newspaper circulations have fallen by 58 percent since 2003, said Shapiro.
Why is this happening and what is happening as a result of this?
Advertising is moving from hard copy to online due to advertisers wanting to be where the eyeballs are. Everybody is on their phone and that is how they are getting their news. Shapiro confirmed that 67 percent of TAPinto's readership is coming from mobile devises.
As a result of this -- some newspapers are going out of business or going online. "Local papers are getting bought out -- those companies are gutting the newsrooms," said Shapiro. "They are gutting newsrooms to be as profitable as possible." To stay alive, the papers are regionalizing their coverage and becoming less and less local, he said. "Their motivation is profit, secondary motivation is covering the town," Shapiro added.
Coverage is becoming less local with fewer journalists on the ground covering the local news, State and County news. "There was a time in Union County where there were three reporters from Star Ledger covering County news -- not anymore. Most publications covering the State House are down to one reporter. You don't hear as much about what is going on in Trenton."
Out of New Jersey's 566 municipalities, over 100 municipalities do not have a local paper. "What is impacting media is impacting democracy," said Shapiro. "It isn't just New Jersey, it impacts the whole country."
"What I am aiming to do is to create a nationwide model for sustainable local journalism," said Shapiro. "It's really important for everybody in this room and everyone throughout the country to have sustainable journalism -- without it, democracy suffers."
TAPinto.net, launched in 2008 as The Alternative Press in three towns [Summit, New Providence and Berkeley Heights] as an all online hyperlocal news source. Since franchising in 2013, TAPinto.net currently has 65 sites across New Jersey and five in New York. "We are at 5.9 million unique readers," said Shapiro, "We are the only scalable profitable newspaper in New Jersey."
The TAPinto Elizabeth site was launched in March of 2015.
Our goal is to have 250 sites by the end of 2020 with a presence in communities throughout the country, he said. "It's a matter of time until we break out of New Jersey and New York where we currently are."
Shapiro credits TAPinto for people getting more involved and engaged in their communities. "When you have a good local paper, it brings the community together. It impacts the very fabric of all of our towns."
Shapiro also explained the benefit of marketing through TAPinto -- offering a marketing platform that provides businesses the ability to gain targeted exposure through advertising, content marketing, sponsorship, eNews marketing, eBlast marketing, in-app and push sponsorship, as well as site monetization.
To learn more about site franchising or marketing with TAPinto.net contact Mike Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.