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The future of the newspaper industry
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TOPIC: The future of the newspaper industry

posted 05-11-2011 15:10
More than any other global newspaper, The Guardian seems to have best adjusted to the digital era, with its BBC-style compendium website and the bewildering array of Guardian Unlimited podcasts. But its print sales have never been robust, and it could well transpire that the paper will ultimately survive in a digital-only format. I fail to believe that the demise of physical papers is imminent, as people will always desire the option of a print read, but will newspapers eventually become free and supported entirely by advertising a la Metro? Likewise, will holding companies take the Murdoch route and hide their websites behind paywalls, or will the freely available media competition make this option impossible?
  • E10 Rifle
  • If this were really happening,what would you think
  • Posts: 9243
posted 05-11-2011 17:12
I think the paywall ship has sailed, for all but the most long-established and specialist of sites, nor is the viability of the digital future guaranteed. Relying on advertising income for digital platforms is also fraught with risk, in these recessionary times. Ultimately, we've got to think about other ways of funding journalism, and other (not necessarily commercial) models. About which I can be a colossal bore, but don't have time to go into here. Though it's pretty obvious that if you were starting up a new media venture now, you wouldn't prioritise print.
Last Edit: 05-11-2011 17:13:08 by E10 Rifle.
posted 07-11-2011 14:27
E10 Rifle wrote:
Ultimately, we've got to think about other ways of funding journalism, and other (not necessarily commercial) models. About which I can be a colossal bore, but don't have time to go into here.


You've said this a few times, but never really explained what these models are.
  • garcia
  • look at how they prospered
  • Posts: 5768
posted 08-11-2011 12:30
yes i'd be interested to hear those colossally boring thoughts.

diable rouge - why do you think people will always desire the option of a print read? i try to avoid newspapers because they make my hands dirty.
  • E10 Rifle
  • If this were really happening,what would you think
  • Posts: 9243
posted 08-11-2011 12:57
Briefly - ideas such as foundation-funding (such as the Bureau for Investigative Journalism), giving local media charitable trust status, "crowd-funded" journalism, levy-funding from news aggregators such as Google, worker or community co-ops. NHH may have more to add here. Some of this is inevitably going to be dismissed as pie in the sky, and some things will be more workable than others, but I don't honestly think it's any more pie in the sky anymore than a lot of existing commercial models.

I've had some involvement, through the union, with the Committee for Media Reform, which is making a submission to Leveson, who's reports I'll be ploughing through later this week. When I've got more time, I'll try and find some links.

As for newspapers, some love 'em, some no longer feel a need. Though the adversarial "print v digital" debate is essentially pointless - people get too obsessed with platforms over content.
posted 08-11-2011 13:06
What do you mean by the platform debate? It's key to how people want to "consume" their news, and how you might charge them for it.

You can substitute "read" for "consume" if you want.

Some good ideas in your first paragraph.
posted 08-11-2011 14:11
garcia wrote:
yes i'd be interested to hear those colossally boring thoughts.

diable rouge - why do you think people will always desire the option of a print read? i try to avoid newspapers because they make my hands dirty.


Well, when the Internet really started to become mainstream in Europe around the end of the millennium, people were prophesising that this marked the end of the printed book, and before long all publishing would be done online, as Stephen King was doing with his serialised e-book. What they forgot was the social aspect, that people simply like to go into newsagents/ book stores to browse through magazines and pick up a cheap paperback, and though as they say, today's paper is tomorrow's fish and chips, people will want a print paper for their train journeys, office lunchtimes etc, simply as a break from their Blackberries and Kindles.
posted 08-11-2011 14:57
Diable Rouge wrote:
… people were prophesising that this marked the end of the printed book, and before long all publishing would be done online, as Stephen King was doing with his serialised e-book.


If you look at the figures (particularly regarding sales of Kindle books in the US), the first assertion is already happening.

What will happen in the short term is that publishing will increasingly move to a mixture of eBooks and print-on-demand. I'm not sure how the hardback will figure in this.

If you want a cheap novel, your best bet is to get one for $0.99-$2.99 from the Kindle Store.
posted 08-11-2011 15:08
E10 Rifle wrote:
Briefly - ideas such as foundation-funding (such as the Bureau for Investigative Journalism), giving local media charitable trust status, "crowd-funded" journalism, levy-funding from news aggregators such as Google, worker or community co-ops.


Once you've boiled this down, there's only really three sources of funding here — charity, reader donations and taxation.

The charity option is going to mostly depend on the largesse of a few rich people.

Several podcasts I listen to regularly ask for reader contributions, but the proportion doing so is miniscule.

Google doesn't make any money out of Google News, so would presumably pull it rather than pay for the privilege. Plus the difficulty of defining what an aggregator is.
posted 08-11-2011 16:01
Has the concept of micropayments gone completely?

I saw the Page One documentary about the New York Times recently. It's not very good but one thing that was clear was that they haven't a notion what their business model is going to be in ten years.

As for DRs point, the people browsing in bookshops are the people who have done so for years. It's less than 6 months since I got my kindle but my future book buying ratio is going to be heavily weighted towards electronic format. Ten years ago, I regularly bought CDs and newspapers. I've bought newspapers less than ten times this year. All times were when I didn't have daily internet access. People growing up now with no concept of life before Google won't be buying printed books or papers in the numbers that people did twenty years ago.
  • E10 Rifle
  • If this were really happening,what would you think
  • Posts: 9243
posted 14-11-2011 12:02
Very long, but extraordinarily good piece on all this from the Colombia Journalism Review
posted 16-11-2011 23:13
E10 Rifle wrote:
Very long, but extraordinarily good piece on all this from the Colombia Journalism Review


I've read too many of these kind of articles.

I'm not going to argue that the nature of journalism isn't changing — the move to electronic publishing and the myriad of communication media will result in all sorts of possibilities.

But that's really irrelevant because I'm only interested in two questions:

1. Should we have paid journalists?
2. If so, how do we pay them?

I think pretty much everyone agress that (1) is desirable. In the article above, if you dig down far enough, they suggest that news publishing could exist on a freemium model. Which is all well and good, but did I really have to read all that to find this out?
  • NHH
  • Posts: 2593
posted 08-05-2012 23:15
  • WOM
  • Going to call for the transcript.
  • Posts: 20221
posted 09-05-2012 00:09
Holy hell, NHH, that's some piece of work. I'm going to have to print that off tomorrow so I can read it old-school.
Last Edit: 09-05-2012 01:10:19 by WOM.
posted 09-05-2012 05:22
As for newspapers, some love 'em, some no longer feel a need. Though the adversarial "print v digital" debate is essentially pointless - people get too obsessed with platforms over content.


Amen!
posted 09-05-2012 07:43
G.Man wrote:
As for newspapers, some love 'em, some no longer feel a need. Though the adversarial "print v digital" debate is essentially pointless - people get too obsessed with platforms over content.

Amen!


It is an important issue though, but maybe not for the reasons people think.

Yes, it costs more to print a newspaper than it does to distribute it electronically. However, with print, the publishers can control the distribution. With electronic publishing, Amazon and Apple are in control, and will take a 30% or so cut of your revenue and limit the amount of information you can get about your customers (as Apple do).
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