The death of news-on-paper is the rebirth of news organizations


My Newspaper Extinction Timeline is now well over 3 years old, in which time it has been viewed many millions of times and appeared in publications in over 30 countries. There has been a revival of interest recently from the extensive coverage of a keynote I gave at Arab Media Forum in Dubai last month and comments I made afterwards.

Many commentators on my framework seem to equate newspapers with newspaper companies. That is completely incorrect.

Such a thing as a “newspaper” company has ceased to exist except in regional areas of developing countries. What were newspaper companies are now news organizations.

The death of news-on-paper absolutely does not imply the death of news organizations. In fact it is an enabler of their rebirth.

Dominique Delport, the very switched-on Global MD of Havas Media Group, has created an excellent slide deck titled Newspapers: The End… Seriously? (embedded below). He opens with my Newspaper Extinction Timeline and goes on to paint a bright future for the industry.

Dominique offers 5 reasons why newspapers have a bright future:

1. The rise of the global middle class
Enormous growth in the middle class especially in Asia, and Africa soon a mobile continent

2. Mobile first
The end of Google dependence, new income sources, transitioning to online and mobile platforms

3. Most popular writing
New formats including video and tapping your readers for content (crowdsourcing media)

4. Data exploitation driving business
Big data and algorithms lead to new forms including data visualization

5. Innovation and agility
Including personalized newspapers, mosquito repellent newspapers, and my own NewsScape, which points to where value will be created in the future of news

Almost all of the points Dominique makes are about the very bright future for news, and only a little about news-on-paper.

I created the Newspaper Extinction Timeline to be provocative and make leaders in the news industry globally think in a more pointed fashion about their future. The death of news-on-paper is far from the most interesting issue at stake, unless you are a paper manufacturer. The issue is the future of news, and the many channels over which it will flow.

Absolutely, let’s use paper for news delivery wherever and for however long it is useful (hint: not very long).

However the impending demise of news-on-paper is an opportunity for news organizations to be reborn, and to create a future of news which informs us better, is more participatory, and involves far fewer dead trees. Let’s celebrate that.