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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

newspapers: a digital future? « Previous | |Next »
June 17, 2011

Are newspapers on some journey to a digital future? Some say that the future doesn’t have room for paper or print -based newspapers at all.

It is the case that the older "mass print media" are losing ground in a marketplace fragmented by the multiplication of pay television channels and Web sites. Budgets are squeezed by the industry recession and by short term profit-taking pressure from investors; papers are losing vital classified ad revenue to online operations; and the decades-long slow constriction of circulation threatens to close the arteries unless newspapers can somehow snag the next generation of readers.

Rupert Murdoch reckons that newspapers will evolve onto a mobile, electronic platform that updates every hour or two and that consumers will pay for most online news content in future. It just seems inevitable that someday digital delivery of in-depth, personalized information -- including text, audio and video -- to electronic devices will supplant the trucking of heavy physical loads door-to-door.

That would mean stop listening to print people and putting the digital people in charge – of everything. Is that actually happening in the industry?

The Guardian has outlined a different media strategy to Murdoch's paywall approach to ensure the prestige, political influence and getting their own views across to the public.

The Guardian's major transformation programme is to de-emphasise print and become digital-first. In doing so it will, shrink the printed newspaper away from breaking news and into a smaller, less resource-intensive edition that instead leads on analysis. The intention for Guardian.co.uk to stay free on the web remains in place.

This is in contrast the newspapers in Australia where publishers have slowly balanced digital growth with print decline and where their eventual crossover appears distant. It appears that they see convergence with broadcast and online media as the shape of things to come for newspapers. That looks feasible, because the Internet is still dominated by text. But in a future dominated by video, newspapers will not translate so easily, since television and newsprint are oil and water.

Andrew Miller, the Guardian Media Group CEO, says that:

The financial pressure all newspapers are facing through the shift is such that our losses are increasing and I can’t see a way of those not decreasing without first making ourselves digital-first. All newspapers will ultimately exit print. But we’re putting no timeframe on that. This is about repositioning the business to be digital-first. I don’t know if anyone’s said that before at a major newspaper. It’s about finding the right format for newspapers in our portfolio.

One way Guardian.co.uk will endeavour to get there is to grow its U.S. audience from New York to significantly grow advertiser scale - something Miller hopes will mean Guardian.co.uk can charge higher ad prices.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:18 PM | | Comments (3)
Comments

Comments

The future is still good for the local newspapers. Still full of ads and brochures and local news. Still free and delivered by a local kid every week.
People like to know whats going on in their local area. Its not all about headlines,wars and editorials

yes, local newspapers will survive as print. The costs of print will force them to increasingly go digital.

According to the media the main threat to our private private life is the state – the informer, the watcher, the secret policeman.

Today there is widespread agreement that segments of the tabloid press and television pose a different but still real threat to private life.

It can be credibly said that the fourth estate is close to being a state within the state, unregulated except to the modest extent that it chooses to regulate itself and alternately feared and pandered to by public figures.