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“Newspapers will not disappear”: Who are you going to believe, the Washington Post or your own lyin’ eyes? 8/10/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Uncategorized.

In February, Washington Post executive editor Len Downie claimed on PBS that “newspapers will not disappear…There will be newspapers and they will still be charging a cover price.” But, you don’t have to believe in magic to see how the technology below can make a newspaper disappear:

Lots of words have been posted on this site about the days to come, when all of today’s news outlets — newspapers, radio, broadcast TV, cable TV, and online — will become one, meeting on the Internet in a single, brutal competition. But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words — a proverb that carries a particularly ominous message for today’s word-based newspapers.


1. Brian Cubbison - 8/11/07

It’s quite a breakthrough — the best example of an e-reader kind of thing I’ve seen yet. I’d be even more impressed if it folded or fanned out, as well as bending.

As far as news on paper goes, I predict it will be around longer than many people think, but on a smaller scale for a narrow group of readers. The people who still get their news on paper do so because they don’t want to go online for it. For whatever reason, going online isn’t such a pleasant experience for them. If the youngest of those people are in their 50s, they have a good 30 years left. And there will be free metro tabs and weekly shoppers in the mail. Some large newspapers will go online completely except for a traditional Sunday newspaper. But mostly, the “print newspaper” will be a retronym, like broadcast television or day baseball.

2. Steve Boriss - 8/11/07

Brian, I agree with most everything you have said. Regarding the speed and completeness of the decline of newspapers, much will be unpredictable. For instance, while I think it is a good bet that many papers will move to Sunday only, as I’ve posted earlier, it’s hard to know whether that would leave them with a financially viable product. Similarly, it’s hard to predict inflection points, such as when the critical mass for necessary economies of scale are lost as the news audience shifts from older to younger.

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