Newspapers: How long before they are eclipsed by electronic media?
In the past year, by choice, I haven't bought a single newspaper. I have thus saved about £400 to contribute to my various web-site subscriptions and data connection charges. I haven't missed the printed page, any more than I miss the printed book. On the rare occasions I have picked up a newspaper for free I get depressed by the sheer bulk of the thing and all those unwanted sections and magazines. In addition, I have to plough through loads of dross to get to the bits I want to read.
In these days of the global warmists, with all their trappings of religious fervour, I am surprised more attention hasn't been focussed on the printed word. If ever there were a more wasteful means of communication, with a massive "carbon footprint", I have yet to hear of it. I have absolutely no doubt that the next ten years will see the total eclipse of the physical newspaper, not to mention the physical book.
As circulation declines, the economic model will collapse in the face of increasing distribution and recycling costs. With the exception of specialist publications, the printed word will be dead.
For the past twelve months I have read all the news I need on my iPhone or on my Macs. Increasingly I rely on convenient aggregators, such as NetNewsWire, to present the stories and sift through the dross. I can review several newspapers, the BBC and a number of tech sites in a few minutes, while drilling down into the detailed stories when I find something of interest. In this way I don't feel I am missing out and I assimilate a vast amount of information in a 24-hour period.
Better means of reading electronic news will come; in some ways we are already there with the iPad. Here we have one device capable of presenting newspapers, magazines, books, movies and the web while enabling genuine work to be done. I believe 2010 will be breakthrough year when publishers really begin to come to terms with the revolution and embrace the likes of the iPad.
Of course, we electronic readers have had it too good for the past few years. Without physical newspapers and display advertising, who will pick up the bill for the news gathering and presentation? Gradually, I believe, free access to the better news sites will be overtaken by a subscription-based model. When this comes, we will expect much more than we currently get from "flat" news web sites. We will expect, and get, a much more interactive experience.