From news-on-paper to news-on-many-channels


I’m officially on holidays, but back at home between a family Christmas and beach sojourn and doing quite a few interviews as I go, so I’ll slip in a quick blog post or two. :-)

Yesterday I was interviewed by Toronto radio station Newstalk 1010 about the future (or lack thereof) of newspapers, coming off the news that New York Times has sold its regional newspapers.

They of course wanted me to talk about my Newspaper Extinction Timeline from last year, and I ran through some of the economic reasons why remnant demand for newspapers doesn’t necessarily mean there will continue to be supply.

We know that people’s demand for news is increasing rather than reducing, however the timeliness factor in particular of news-on-paper means that it is becoming considerably less desirable as a channel for news.

Many people seem fixated on tablets in their current form as the alternative to newspapers, and discuss the relative merits of iPads and newspapers. That is missing the point entirely.

Firstly, tablets of today are simply introducing us to a new format that will improve dramatically and will soon come at a far lower cost. Newspapers need to be compared to the tablets of 5 years from now rather than from those of today.

However there will be many, many new channels in addition to the ones we have today. Digital ink and e-paper will have many of the qualities of paper, plus the advantages of digital.

As covered in our Future of Media Report 2006, we will have video and information updates everywhere we can imagine and tolerate. Rather than spreading our newspaper on the table at the cafe, we will turn the table-top into a newspaper, neatly fitting in the articles we want to read around our coffee cup and toast. From omnichannel retail we will shift to omnichannel news, in whatever format and style best suits us. Yes, news-on-paper will not entirely die and will survive in a few instances. But the competition from the multiplicity of channels on which we can find the news that suits us means the economic model for newspapers will completely wither.