Saturday, January 30, 2010

Imagining the Death of Print ... and the Birth of, Well, Something Else

In two previous posts -- click here and here -- I asked some questions about the future of traditional print media and the larger implications for all news reporting.

With the release this past week of Apple's iPad, a whole bunch more questions and proposals came up, and this one and this one (and now this one) sounded a little familiar.

But, enough about me, what do you think about ... news on paper?

Using Twitter, Facebook and email, I put out a question: If you knew that news would no longer be available on paper in, say, one year, what would you do?

The respondees include folks not working in media but also quite a few who do (obviously, the one constant is they all use computers to one degree or another, as that's how I asked them the question).

You will draw your own conclusions once you read these replies -- and I'd love to hear from you in the comments -- but my immediate takeaway from this is that few folks working outside of media really comprehend that online news is either largely a product of, or dependent on, content from traditional print and wire sources (and while those working in media know this, many just read stuff online for free and hope for the best).

Even fewer have internalized the fact that their enjoyment of free news is heavily dependent on revenue from those "backward" folks who still buy paper news and magazines and thereby contribute to the calculation of advertising revenues, which are still greater in print than online.

It's like standing on the shoulders of giants and thinking you're just really tall.

But human nature is what it is. As infomercial king Kevin Harrington said on my other blog, "I'm a consumer, and I want what I want."

That still leaves the problem of how to pay to give consumers what they want in the way they want it. The issue is being studied widely, including by the Newseum, and by the makers of this upcoming documentary film (who had an awesome trailer on YouTube, which they have inexplicably removed).

As always, the people have the final word, as they do here.

Here are the responses from Twitter:

* It's strange, but even though I started my journalism career writing for newspapers, I haven't read one regularly in maybe a decade.

* What are newspapers going to do if we no longer read them in print?

* Honestly, now that you've got me thinking about it, I realize that I so rarely look at news on paper, I wouldn't much notice.

* Tweet one: Does that assume evything now in print wd be online? Or that print sub & ad revenue wd disappear, taking many outlets with them?
Tweet two: Yr tweeps, I suspect, are assuming that cd still read evything they can today online, for free. Wd that it were so.
Tweet three, responding to my tweet that the assumption was that it would be online (don't know about the "free" bit, though): Then I wd be grateful for the miracle that enabled that to happen. Tho sad for my mom, who has no computer & lives in 3G dead zone.

(Above from a working magazine journalist)

* Start my own newspaper or magazine.

* If news was not available on paper tomorrow it wouldn't affect me at all. I all my news on the web. Sunday newspaper = coupons.

* I would not care. The only thing I would miss is the NY Times crossword puzzle. All my news comes online or TV.

* Nothing. I rarely read the newspaper now.

* What's paper???

(Above from a wiseacre reality-TV star)

* I barely read the paper as it is. So not much.

* Hoard print like a mother f---er.

* Probably nothing. It's been forever since I regularly read the news in hard copy.

* Subscribe to Yahoo news feed online -- not a big deal.

* I'd worry about the potential job losses, but it wouldn't really impact me, personally.

* It would not bother me. I get my news online already, when I want to read the news. Too much misery nowadays.

* TV, online, vids, etc., to get news if newsprint ws ... too sad to even contemplate.

* Hey, Kate, it's already happening at my library. We get more & more journals online. I honestly dunno what I'd do re: news.

* I'd be devastated. I love reading the paper every morning.

From Facebook ...

* Read it online or on my Blackberry, like I do now, but still lament the lost of the tactile-ness of paper.

* Not even notice.

(Above from a working online journalist)

* Have (my fiance) continue to watch CNN and keep me posted.

From email ...

* The computer is the devil.

* Since I generally read newspapers and magazines for the tactile experience and ease of reading (especially longer, in-depth articles and books), I would be disappointed, but would generally adapt to reading news online at specific news sites. I also might consider purchasing a Kindle, Apple iPad or something similar.

* I wouldn't be happy. While I know that news in the paper in the morning is already out-of-date by the time I read it with my dinner in the evening, still, that's when I have the time to read it. I get NY Times updates throughout the day, when something important (and sometimes not-so-important) happens, and that's good enough. And I do check the local TV-station websites for weather, etc.

* Nothing. I don't read it in print anymore, anyway.

(Above from a working newspaper journalist and blogger)

* MYOP (Make Your Own Paper) Subscribe to a daily customized online digest of everything I actually care about. Local news and style pieces from the (Washington) Post; community doings in the Gazette; think pieces from the (New York) Times and the (Wall Street) Journal; entertainment news from Cuppa, and woo-hoo! No more sports! Add in some weekly features from the Economist and The Week, and I'm a happy woman. That, or just keep listening to NPR.

* I would do my best to find an online news provider who actually PAID reporters to report the news. A news provider with an editorial staff -- meaning not only copy editing but content editing. I want lackeys reporting to bosses! I also would like to PAY for this service, because otherwise I don't see how these editors and reporters are being paid. I'd most likely access this news from my computer, because that's where I am all the time.
I still haven't found an ereader that has caught my fancy. I guess I'd start looking for one I could read while lying on my back on my couch or in my EZ Boy chair. This laptop thing requires that I sit bolt upright like a student or, like, say, a television writer writing.
I want my news to come from the pros. Even the pros I hate and rail against. I've had it with the amateurs.

(Above from a working TV writer/producer)

* What, you mean people still read print?

* I'll absolutely have no problem with that. I'd do nothing special except for, maybe, sorting out more carefully where to go online for the latest info.

* I'd get pretty annoyed, as I still like my weekend newspapers (no need to boot up, no terrible consequences if I spill coffee on it). But I'd continue watching the evening news on TV, on a local station. I don't get much news on the computer. If I am online, I am busy doing something else besides perusing the news.

* I'd be sad, since I'm a tactile person, and newspapers are kind of comforting. However, if we decided to spare the trees, I'd read the news online. Although, sitting on the porch on a summer Sunday with a cup of coffee and a netbook somehow wouldn't have the same charm.


Anonymous said...

Unable to give you a heart. so have a reply to push up your post. ........................................

Anonymous said...

最敏捷的,未必贏得競賽:最強大的,未必贏得戰爭:時間與機會才是主人 ..................................................

Anonymous said...

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.............................................

Anonymous said...

It's great!!.............................................

Anonymous said...


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