The Fallacy of the ‘Print Is Dead’ Meme

    by Michael Josefowicz
    April 27, 2009
    Information junkies insist that print is dead and that the Internet is the future -- but they might not have the full picture. Photo by "striatic":http://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/

    Common sense tells us that print is not going away. If print is no longer an important part of your life, that is undeniable. But to extrapolate from personal experience to a statement about what is going to happen in the world doesn’t work. But that’s exactly what many of the people foretelling the death of print are doing.

    That’s because most of the public discourse tends to be dominated by information junkies and there is little doubt that if you’re an information junkie, the web is the way to go. But the reality is that info-junkies are only a small tribe. They consume the news at a prodigious rate and the web is the fastest way to satisfy their appetite. Thus, they’re also the most vocal tribe — so it’s easy to get the impression that theirs is the most widely held conclusion. But if you listen to some of the discourse, it soon becomes apparent that it’s only one way to look at it.

    Print is still king

    Martin Langeveld

    You can get a flavor of it in some of the responses to a series of recent blog posts by former newspaper publisher and current consultant Martin Langeveld, who presented a clear articulation of a path forward for journalism and newspapers. One of the posts was titled, Print is still king — only 3% of newspaper reading is happening online. While the exact numbers are open to further investigation, the thrust of the argument is that the overwhelming majority read newspapers in print, not on the web.


    The fascinating thing for a Boomer print evangelist like me is that the blog post received 76 comments and 38 trackbacks in seven days. Clearly, Langeveld’s suggestions struck a nerve among the visitors to The Nieman Journalism Lab. The comments had a good mix of helpful and not so helpful. Here are some that are helpful in revealing a mindset that has hindered an understanding of what is going to happen next:

    “I barely spend 25 minutes a week now where I once spent 25 minutes a day. Don’t know if this was your first-ever article (since I have never heard of you) but hopefully a peer can teach you some research techniques.”

    “The print edition is read by a disproportionately high volume of older readers — who will, if you will pardon the bluntness, be dead relatively soon.”

    “This is total bs. The only printed publications I read (outside of books) is when I travel on planes. Crap, my 80 year old dad only reads on-line newspapers. This story is a total industry plant. If this was the case why has the size of my local paper shrunk down to “high school” paper size in the last couple years?”


    “I only read the newspaper online, so do most of my friends, my mom and dad and brothers. In my circle I would say that 50% of the people I know now read the newspaper online.”

    Unlike Langeveld, though, these commenters didn’t base their conclusions on research and analysis; instead they provided anecdotal evidence. At Comment 53, Langeveld responded to his critics with the point I want to highlight:

    I based this on a whole lot of solid data and a couple of reasonable assumptions. Change those assumptions if you like, but it won’t change the conclusions, I’ve explained why. What I have NOT done is thrown in anecdotal observations about newspapers left unread on chairs, 80-year-old dads who get their news online, and the like, and drawn global conclusions from that.

    Generational Shifts

    When I was 20, I wore a T-shirt that said “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” It seemed to be completely clear at the time. It made so much sense. Anyone who didn’t see what I saw was destined for the dustbin of history. I was wrong, but it happens every 40 years or so. 1920s, 1880s,1840s, 1790s. A new cohort enters the global arena. They think the way they see the world is the Truth. It’s the error of clarity in a very complex world. The same thing is happening today with young info-junkies so eager to discount print.

    Many brick-and-mortar stores continue to thrive

    The “End of Print” is a meme that has gained ascendency in an environment of disruptive change in the communication ecology. It’s similar to the dot-com boom meme that bricks-and-mortar stores were doomed and would soon disappear. But fast-forward 10 years and you’ll see that prophecy never came to pass. Stores with physical presences are still strong: Wal-Mart had the third most visited e-commerce website last Christmas and continues to lead retail sales by using stores and the website. Pets.com didn’t work out as predicted, while brick-and-mortar pet stores continue to thrive. (However: Independent bookstores have been decimated by Amazon.com.)

    What’s next

    But even if talk about the death of print is very noisy, there’s no denying that the web has changed and will continue to change the nature of print journalism. Langeveld does an admirable job of articulating a useful thought model for thinking about journalism in Managing the Content Cascade and a useful model for thinking about newspapers in Newspapers Have to Grow their Online Audience, Can They?:

    Newspapers must become digital enterprises, even if they choose to continue to print on some days or on every day of the week. The corporate culture of newspapers is still very much that of an “industry” with its bricks and mortar, iron and steel, trucks, vans and smokestacks. The daily work flow of most newspaper employees is organized around the central event of the daily press deadline. That culture is hard to change, even in the few newspaper firms where top leadership understands the need for reinvention as a digital enterprise. And it’s hard to do this, because there’s no blueprint and the few industry pioneers who are leading the way don’t necessarily know exactly what they’re doing. It’s very much a “fire, ready, aim” process.

    The game changer that Langeveld implies is that newspapers can abandon the obsession with the daily press deadline. From the editorial and journalist point of view, that means there will no longer be any need to run after “breaking news.” Leave that to the web or the cable channels, whose fast pace more suits info-junkies anyway.

    For newspapers, a “World in Brief” update on pages 1, 2 or 3 with links to the website will do that job. Or it might be a content feed from EveryBlock.com, sort of a weather report for a community’s social capital. Once stories are freed from the drop-dead press deadline, journalists and editors will be free to tell one, two or three interesting, nuanced stories as appropriate. With the addition of digital printing, it means that different stories can appear that are interesting to different people, with little muss or fuss.

    From the cost-of-production point of view, that means the awesome productivity of offset presses can be finally harnessed. Instead of having to keep overhead to deal with peak loads, it is now possible to even out the manufacturing load. Once that’s accomplished, it’s possible to harness the “Long Tail” of print manufacture. The marginal costs are very low.

    Because every business understands the value of print advertising, the trick is only to make the buy for a print/web ad combo easy and affordable.

    Go Print!

    I’ve been a print evangelist on the web since 2005. (If you are interested you can read my columns at WhatTheyThink.com back in the day.) In my first MediaShift column on February 17, titled Print is the Next Big Thing I said:

    1. The best interactive tools for learning are still a page of print and a highlighter.
    2. Print is the best search platform in proximate physical space.
    3. Print can be seen as a toy, a token or a tool — things that people have and will continue to gladly pay for.
    4. Once print is connected to cloud computing, everything will change again.

    Despite the noise of info-junkies, that’s still my story and I’m sticking to it. But on the other hand, all of us over-40-year-olds will, if you will pardon the bluntness, be dead relatively soon.

    Michael Josefowicz spent 30 years at Red Ink Productions, a boutique print production brokerage he co-founded which served New York-based design studios and non-profit organizations. He came out of retirement to teach production at Parsons The New School for Design for the next 7 years. He now blogs about print at Print in the Communication Ecology and about the digital printing industry at Tough Love for Xerox.

    Tagged: nieman journalism lab offset printing print print is dead print-to-web
    • The difference between Wal-Mart and PetsMart vs. Amazon.com or another e-tailer. Brick and mortar stores that sell need items at a low price will do well. E-tailers who sell items you can wait for at a good price and in an easy to order manner will also do well.

      Newspapers are neither. News is not a need item, nor something you can wait for. People want news now, but they don’t need it so much they are willing to pay a premium.

    • Travis Mason-Bushman

      “Unlike Langeveld, though, these commenters didn’t base their conclusions on research and analysis; instead they provided anecdotal evidence.”

      Excuse me – Martin Langeveld’s own conclusions were admittedly based on nothing more than an “educated guess” as to the number of pages read. What the “educated” part is, he doesn’t explain and thus we can’t verify. Langeveld’s guess is no better than the commentators’ anecdotes.

      Do the math. Langeveld’s postulate of 87.1 billion monthly print page views requires that, on average, all 303 million Americans read nearly 10 newspaper pages per day, every day.

      That’s a remarkable fantasy.

    • Rohit Chandra

      The completely web based Highlighter is here. It allows anyone to hihglight any web-page and _automatically_ clips and saves all the highlights for the user.

      Given that large portions of web content is dynamic this is very useful for the user to be able to Collect all that is relevant to him/her as deemed by him/her.

      Highlight this Page

    • @ Teach_J “People want news now, ”

      Some people want news now. For most people no news is good news. They scan the headlines to make sure nothing terrible might happen or whether it’s going to rain tmw or if the home team won last night’s game.

      @Travis “Excuse me – Martin Langeveld’s own conclusions were admittedly based on nothing more than an “educated guess” as to the number of pages read.”

      An educated guess can also be called a working hypothesis that needs further research to be proven. In the post I said “While the exact numbers are open to further investigation, the thrust of the argument is that the overwhelming majority read newspapers in print, not on the web.” To dispute a working hypothesis, because it’s an educated guess doesn’t really move the conversation further along.

      @Rohit “The completely web based Highlighter is here.”

      It depends on your definition of “here.” The technology to produce the completely versioned and customized newspaper for any arbitrarily small sized audience is also here. But I think “here” is used in the sense of time not a space.

      The power of Print is exactly that it lives in a particular Space and could be said to stop time. Unlike the web, it sits still ready to give up information when the user is ready to receive. The information field is large and it can be viewed and scanned by the visual part of the brain, instead of “searched” by the language part of the brain.

    • The experience of print–I.E. the reasons that non news junkies find it easier and more convenient to skim the hard copy of a newspaper once a day–can be recreated online.

      If nothing else, it’s just a waste of paper to continue printing the news at the rate which was once normal.

    • @ NYC the fact that “it” can be recreated on line depends on your definition of “it.”

      here’s what I think the “it” is.

      First the cost of “it.” Consider the amount of attention that has to be given “scanning or reading” on line. You have to concentrate. Then consider the amount of attention that has to be given to Print.

      Given that it’s very clear that we all live in an attention deficit world, giving attention is an expense.

      The value of “it.”

      Consider also how easy it is to share stuff you find on line, with real people in the real world. no doubt it’s very fast to twitter and send links etc.

      But does that create the same experience as sharing a space, looking up and saying ” Honey, you’ve really got to take a look at this.” Then you pass the Print across the table, than you share a moment of interest.
      it’s a different “it.’
      The second one is part of the gezillions micro interactions that are the real stuff of creating intimacy and robust culture and thus increasing the store of social capital.

    • @NYC just a point about Print being “inefficent”

      Efficiency is a measure of the value created. Given that Print has a long proven record of creating revenue, I would call it pretty efficient.

      What is inefficient is people being too busy being busy, laying off and thus destroying a huge amount of human capital, a selling ads system that is completely broken for everyone except big brands and middle management that does exactly what in an world where the marginal cost of moving information is pretty close to zero.

    • It would appear that the author of this article can be compared to all those who once said that digital technology would never replace film in cameras. Since then, technology has progressed to the point where digital images are produced at a better resolution than film, and many film manufacturers have had to change their business model or go out of business. Print may not be dead, but as a medium for delivery news and important stories, it is most certainly being replaced, and with the growth of popularity for devices such as Amazon’s Kindle, I would not buy newspaper or magazine stock right now.

    • @ Michael,
      re “Print may not be dead, but as a medium for delivery news and important stories . . . ”

      Actually we may not disagree. My contention is that if you look at the history of newspapers they didn’t really create their primary value by delivering news. It was a nice to have. But it was more about making visible the invisible culture of their tribes.

      As in “people like us . . .read the xyz”
      people like us mean different things to different people at different times. mets fans, NY Daily News readers, and most visibly the old grey lady herself.

      In fact if you’ve seen their latest ads the tag line is something like ” to start the conversation…”

      Everybody wants to be part of conversation. I stand by my contention that news readers are in fact a niche market of the niche market of anybody who reads anything.

      As for the digital camera thing, nope.

    • >>>But to extrapolate from personal experience to a statement about what is going to happen in the world doesn’t work.

      Yeah, crazy guy, that Thomas Edison and his quest for the electric lamp. So, tell all of us, what was your bill for gas lighting last month?

    • MJ!
      Great, great review. I, too, am a print evangelist.. with a touch of multi-channel evangelism mixed in. I believe that print is still a key ingredient in the mix for communication. I read two newspapers most Sundays. I read print magazines because they are portable and I don’t have to haul the ocmputer to bed. Works better on the beach, too.

      I get online. I Tweet. I blog. I participate in social media. But, I also respect the printed piece and I see a place for it for a long time to come.

      At 52 (so, over 20) I feel that I have a decent view of all of thecommunication channels. I use all of them. I will continue to use all of them, and encourage every marketer I meet to do the same!

    • @ Mike,
      “Yeah, crazy guy, that Thomas Edison and his quest for the electric lamp.”

      Actually he started with the desire to make lots of money. They he made an educated guess. Then he worked really hard for a really long time trying to get it right. Then he went after Westinghouse – it’s a great story. Then gas lighting started to be replaced by electricity.

      Fast forward to 2009. Natural gas will be a primary energy source going forward. And the DC coal generated power plant is probably going to wither away.

      So, from where I sit, the business about gas bill sounds ok, but it doesn’t really hold up if you think about it.

    • @ Pat,
      Thanks for stopping by. My concern is more focused on education than marketing. What’s been lost in the buzz about the web is the fact that logical thinking is best learned in print, becuase it’s much too hard to do compare and contrast in moving media.

      I’m not saying it’s impossible for the really experienced. But if the issue is to teach logical thinking to high school kids, nothing better than Print and a highlighter.

    • The real fallacy is the assumption that general newspapers will necessarily continue to exist at all, whether online or in hardcopy.

      The reason why only 3% of people read newspapers online is because they have so many *other*, *free*, *real-time* sources of news that are more conveniently accessible and more easily cross-referenced against other sources for bias and accuracy. Those who still prefer the old-school newspaper experience will buy the hardcopy edition, so they’re not reading papers online, either.

      For me and most people I know, news consumption has become a drilldown experience. I get the headlines from radio, CNN or BNO News on Twitter, then go online to news dot Google dot com to further research the stories that interest me. Links to numerous sources for the same story make it fast and easy for me to get a comprehensive picture of the story from multiple points of view. For even more in-depth analysis, I can read the commentary on any of a number of trusted websites and blogs. I’m still reading newspaper stories online, but only in a cherry-picking fashion; I’m not sticking around to read the entire “paper”.

      To date, the only online papers that seem to be doing well are specialist publications which have established themselves as the ‘go-to’ sources for specific kinds of information and have always catered to a wealthier clientele (i.e., The Wall Street Journal).

      While my behavior may be atypical of most people my age (in their 40’s) or older, when anyone under the age of 30 wants information, the web is their first stop.

    • @April,
      you say “The reason why only 3% of people read newspapers online is because they have so many *other*, *free*, *real-time* sources of news that are more conveniently accessible and more easily cross-referenced against other sources for bias and accuracy”

      Your implicit assumption is that people buy or pick up the newspaper for the news. I don’t think this is borne out by either research or most people’s experience.

      Once TV came into the picture in the 1970’s most people get their “news” from the tube. The irony of course is that “news” on the tube is mostly soundbites and scare stories and gossip. But that’s a different issue.

      The description of the work you do to figure out what’s really going on sounds like it takes quite a bit of time. It’s exactly the kind of work I want from a journalist. I have other things to do with my life.

      Then you say “For me and most people I know, news consumption has become a drilldown experience.’

      My assertion is still that people with a thirst for news are a niche of a niche. So while you and your friends are good data point, it’s only one among many data points. My understanding is that it takes 100,000 hard covers sold to get on the NYTImes best seller list, even pre Internet. Hardly a mass market.

      Another data point is that many Shoppers filled with local ads are doing well and lots of community newspapers are doing ok.

      I’m not sure yet exactly what it means, but I’m seeing that it more supports my assertions than yours.

    • I wish I could agree, having been in newspapers most of my working life (my newspaper job ended late last year). But what newspapers face is a constantly growing storm that will wash most of them away.
      When readers can get their info online for free, and see themselves published online in comments and blogs, there is little incentive to then pay to get a paper that has the same info w/o the ability to offer instant feedback.
      Then there is the ongoing environmental movement. It’s just not fashionable to get the paper today, regardless of trees being a renewable resource.
      And the financial meltdown has harmed overstretched newspaper chains that thought they could grow through acquisitions w/o factoring in the real cost, i.e. danger, of high debt.

    • @mmusa,
      But newspapers have never been supported by their readers paying.

      At least since the industrial revolution, mass market newspapers have always been paid for by advertising. I just can’t see what it has to do with readers paying.

      As for the storm, no doubt. But compared to the one blowing through the financial system and the auto industry, it’s actually not that bad.

      As for the blogs and self expression. Can you imagine how excited those same people might be to see their edited conversations in printed form. Plus it’s free content to fill the editorial hole between the ads.

      As for too much debt business that’s a bad management problem and a Board of Directors that was sleeping on the job. Doesn’t have all that much to do with either news or paper.

      Re the environmental stuff. Aside from the very real issue of newspapers in the waste stream, paper companies in general are tree farmers. Is it a bigger or smaller problem than the electricity used to send spam or the problem of computer waste disposal?

      Will it “wash away” most newspapers? Maybe it will clear the field for all the new growth coming from the ground.

      The real problem to be solved are to develop new paths for the journalists who have been abandoned by managements who can’t figure out how to repurpose human capital.

      On other hand, there have never been more experienced people free to do what’s next. Given the number of start ups and the needs for new experienced people in education, I think it will be very interesting to see how this all plays out.

    • Print will evolve and live on — though many publications will die in the process, some deservedly so — but INTERRUPTION is dead.

      “Because every business understands the value of print advertising, the trick is only to make the buy for a print/web ad combo easy and affordable.”

      The ad-supported publishing model as it currently exists, print AND online, doesn’t work for the vast majority of marketers and publishers who are counting on it bouncing back are simply delaying the inevitable.

      First, most businesses DO NOT understand the value of print advertising; in fact, most don’t understand the value of advertising, period, because it is still difficult to precisely measure its effectiveness and when times are tough, every dollar has to be accounted for and advertising is one of the first cuts to be made.

      Those who do understand the value of advertising have a wide variety of channels available to them nowadays to not just “reach” their target audience but to “engage” them, most offering much more control over delivery and format of their message than the average print ad.

      PS: Captcha filter for this post was “the” “hellhole”. LOL!

    • Print isn’t dead, it’s just shifting it’s focus. After 17+ years online, the problem is that content is free, and no one wants to pay for anything anymore. Besides, if newspapers and magazines stopped printing and went just to the web, what would we use as cat pan liners and sneaker stuffers?

    • @ Guy, your points are well taken.

      I should have written something more along the lines of “every micro and small business feels that advertising is something they should do. But they can only afford to pay very little and they will repeat only if they see it works.”

      Given the many business card ads and display ads in shoppers and local papers, I think there is some evidence that supports that notion.

      I agree it is never going to be what it was and the notion of ‘no interruption” is spot on. It’s mostly in the US that advertising is such a huge part of the revenue stream. My opinion is that newspapers should use their websites to aggregate fans, then make stuff to sell them. Sort of like t-shirts and concerts for musicians.

      But the way I see crux of the advertising problem is the expense and hassle of buying ads. Not it’s efficacy. While big brands are starting to go around the media completely,the small and local businesses want the validation of being in Print, plus the reprints, plus the local day to day exposure. If and only if they can afford it.

      If the ad sales process is easy and cheap then the price of advertising can be low enough to bring a large new class of buyers into the market. If a newspaper does low page count versioned editions they can sell the same real estate 10 times, with a very low marginal cost.

      I think The right price and ease of the buy helps explain why Google has been so successful. According to what I think I’ve read, they have over a million new small advertisers.

    • We don’t have clear data about the average number pages each member of that audience looks at, but let’s make an educated guess: 24.

      I note that Langeveld didn’t factor in all the *nonnewspaper* sources of news on the web (CNN, Yahoo! News, etc.) It’s not just the newspaper numbers. And I, too, think that “24” number is vastly overstated, but I have anecdotal evidence (which means squat). Of course, a lot of newspaper audience survey research would likely meet that measure.

    • My snap reaction to this piece is, as it is to all such pieces, that it seems that the writer has missed the underlying point — as people do who encourage Americans to buy Canadian pharmaceuticals “cause it’s cheaper”: if *all Americans* did, it wouldn’t be *cheaper* anymore.

      In this case, it’s the reporters and editors, stupid.

      Newspaper reporters are at the bottom of the journalism food chain, and if someone doesn’t figure out a way to keep paying them, then they won’t *be there* for the rest of the news-dissemination chain to scarf from…

    • Actually as i read Langeveld as very specifically limiting the discussion at hand the reading of newspapers. So he was explicit about not factoring in non newspaper sites.

      The issue of measurement really is thorny. The web has great metrics in terms of clicks, page views, etc etc. But is this a case of exact measurements of irrelevant things? a little like high stakes NCLB testing.

      In print, coupons have been doing pretty well. The “measurement” is how many people brought the coupon and made a purchase. As CPC replaces CPM and eventually it is tracked all the way through to a buy, then it will approach the usefulness of coupons.

    • @ Baylink,

      I don’t think we disagree.

      In one of the comments I said “The real problem to be solved are to develop new paths for the journalists who have been abandoned by managements who can’t figure out how to repurpose human capital.”

      No doubt journalists are at the bottom of the totem pole. Newspapers as products are not, never have been about journalism, they are about advertising. The AP doesn’t sell news, they sell agates to fill the space between advertising.

      Rupert Murdoch is arguably the most successful newspaper man in the world. Depending on the market he offers what sells. For his mass papers I don’t think either of us would call it news produced for journalists. But, at the top of the market at the WSJ, my bet is it will be the real stuff.

      The task at hand is not to save journalism. It’s to invent journalism, in my not so humble opinion.

    • Micheal, What a wonderful blog. May I clear up a common misunderstanding about my fellow countryman and inarguably the most successful newspaper/meda man on the planet, Rupert Murdoch? He doesn’t think journalists are at the bottom of the pile, totem or whatever. On April 27 in Paris (France not Texas!)at the launch of the WAN (World Association of Newspapers)annual report, he said:
      “Our success will still depend on the bond of trust between readers and our content, not on how many platforms we use,”

      “This annual report demonstrates powerfully how newspapers around the world are being reinvented in the digital age. I believe newspapers have a wonderful future. As printed products and as newly empowered news brands that deliver great journalism across many platforms customized to the interests of readers,”

      But, Mr. Murdoch warns that complacency is the biggest threat to newspapers and that the real foe “is not competition from new technology, it is the complacency in our industry among people who have enjoyed monopolies, who have to compete for an audience they once took for granted, who don’t trust their audiences and who have not responded constructively to challenges from readers who no longer think editors are omnipotent oracles.”

      “If we earn the trust and loyalty of our readers, good newspapers, and their electronic siblings will become even stronger news brands. They may not always be thrown over the fence each morning but their impact will continue to resonate in the communities they serve.”
      “Our role is to give our readers great journalism and great judgment. I am convinced circulation and readership will grow on web pages, through RSS feeds, in e-mails, on mobile devices and in printed newspapers.”
      So there you have it. Great journalism and judgement is the bedrock; the stake-in-the-ground that leads advertisers to want to access an audience.

      Crappy newspapers, like crappy websites, will not survive and develop meanigful audiences. But the ones that change with the times, adapt to younger audiences and merge digital technologies are prospering – even in recession.

      Oh and I have not yet found a satisfactory online way of doing cryptic crosswords!
      Best to all, Andy (not dead yet)

    • Andy,
      Thanks for the reality check from Australia.

      I must say that I fell victim to another meme that is only “common sense” in the world I inhabit. The meme is “Murdoch is bad”

      I think one of the ways that a meme replicates is that certain clusters of words live together in the brain. They are “top of mind” and most easily flow through the fingers to the keyboard to the blog post or to the mouth in conversations.

      The cluster of words for the Murdoch meme in my world includes, but is not limited to. “ruthless business man, outlier, newspaper publisher DNA, Fox News and the NY Post.”

      For me, the most salient datapoint is the experience with Fox News over the last eight years. Focusing on that datapoint to the neglect of others allowed me to overlook the importance of Murdoch in this context.

      Thank you for highlighting the insights of a very successful newspaper publisher in the context of how to make newspapers good businesses. Based on the words you quote, I have to agree that Rupert gets it right.

      I think it’s worth noting that he has just finished building the world’s largest, automated news-on-paper manufacturing plant.

    • I have a group of friends doing their masters in journalism at the University of Amsterdam right now. What’s particularly interesting about this group is that they come, quite literally, from all over the world. And as they’ve experienced it (excuse the anecdotal nature of this evidence), print may be struggling in much of the Western world, but the presence of newspaper is still vital and thriving for billions of people not included in that particular laptop-hugging club.

      Obviously, there are some parts of the world where everybody is online and nobody is reading the newspaper, but if we look at Langeveld’s assertions in a global context – as we must, these days, look at everything – they become far more on point, ie – Just because everybody in Seattle and Colorado gets their news online, it’s not the end of the (printing) world.

    • coomaraswamee

      Newspapers won’t be a part of western life much longer. Too what extent does anyone under 30 rely on the newspaper for news AND more importantly, to shape their buying habits—the answer is nearly 0.

    • @coomaraswemee,
      “To what extent does anyone under 30 rely on the newspaper for news?”

      To what extent have people under 30 ever been the mass market for news? My assertion is not much, not ever. They are too busy with the activities of being under 30. They fact that a niche audience for news has entered the space is only good news.

      Buying habits are mostly not being shaped by advertising. That’s the real message of the crisis in advertising, not in newspapers.

    • Anne,

      Thanks for visiting.
      The meme that “everyone is on line” anywhere is not accurate, in my not so humble opinion.

      Journalism students are a sub set of an educated sub set. The noise can be overwhelming exactly because they are the the most active voices.

      In my view, it’s just another version of the “people like me” problem. The reality is that the internet is awesome for buying, talking and storing conversations. Print is still the mass information media. The tricky part is that most information is about where to go and what to buy and what was yesterday’s score.And will it rain tomorrow. Not very glamorous or exciting to journalists. Very few Pulitzer prizes.

      The new opportunity is to take the ongoing stories and publish focused versions of those stories in versioned newspapers.

      The issue is not how to fit print (500 years old) into the internet (15 years old), but rather how to fit the internet into Print.

    • Ulki

      Hi, This is a very interesting post about the “age old” debate of whether print will be IN or OUT! The comments were especially engaging. While working for a web based company I have always felt that newspaper will someday become extinct, because it’s the news people look for which is equally good if told verbally. So, with iphones (and the more advanced technology that is expected in future), I wonder whether people would want to buy the paper, other than for the purpose of lining cat trays, etc. as someone had commented above. I think newspapers are really in danger, but perhaps they’ll survive as long as we don’t get any substitute material to line cat trays. But print definitely won’t go out of fashion, ’cause think of fliers, banners, hoardings, and magazines with special focus. The look, feel and smell of the printed page will continue to charm readers I hope.

    • Baylink,

      I disagree that reporters are at the bottom. The paper delivery boy is at the bottom in the news business.

      But the bigger point is that if good investigative reporters don’t find a business model that supports them on the web, we’re all in big trouble. Because while print in general is not dead, printing on newsprint to deliver news and other timely information certainly is on its way out.

    • Mark,
      It’s probably true that paper will not deliver “timely” information. My point is that “breaking news” for the mass market will stay with television. The TV stations are figuring out how to broadcast over the web. The biz model of TV on line remains the same. Advertising but with a click through and a “direct mail” response mechanis, You Tube, fora.tv and others are already having early successes with the model.

      Print & kindle are the natural tools for long form reading. Once breaking news drifts to TV and websites, it leaves the room to get back to what newspapers routinely did when they were first invented. Consider Dickens in newspaper serials.

      The revenue stream will revive as newspapers stop trying to get global advertising and continue to invent new ways to aggregate local advertising at much lower costs. That will mean they will be able to bring a whole new class of advertisers into the market by offering ad space at an affordable price and still make a margin.

      HuffPo and Politico are just tow examples of inventing the biz models for investigative reporting.

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