Irish newspapers, including the Farmers Journal, are being hit badly by the rise of digital media, according to the latest figures on newspaper circulation.

The UK-based Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures for Ireland show that circulation of the Farmers Journal is down to 68,000 (down 2.3%).

Last August the figures also showed that daily and weekly newspapers including the Farmers Journal had seen circulation drops.

When Northern Ireland and discounted sales are taken into account, the Farmers Journal circulation figures are down to less than 60,000 in the Republic of Ireland.

Tom Felle, Lecturer in Journalism at City University London, says that while newspapers are not dead, yet, all the evidence points to the fact that all Irish newspapers are in real, long-term trouble.

“The numbers year or year are on average 5% declines. Digital revenues are not strong enough to support the high costs associated with legacy newspaper organisations.

“Some newspapers are doing little more than cannibalising their print editions to make content available digitally.”

The Irish dailies also showed declining figures, including the Irish Independent and the Irish Times. Their figures are down by over 4% and 6% respectively, while the Examiner is down 7% according to the figures.

The figures also show that The Irish Times subscriptions for its digital edition are at 2,951 people buying the paper online each day. The Irish Times announced earlier this week that it would be introducing a pay wall.

According to Felle, the so-called ‘leaky’ paywall is a half-way house option. “This let consumers have some content, up to a cut-off, for free, but beyond that consumers need to subscribe, is fraught with difficulties.

“…the less you make ‘free’ the less your content will be consumed, but more you give way the less likely consumers are to subscribe.”