Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Newspaper death watch

Predicting when newspapers will cease to exist in paper form has become practically a sport among pundits in recent years.
Futurist and entrepreneur Ross Dawson of Sydney, Australia, predicted in August 2010 that newspapers in the U.S. will be the first to go. He forecast that U.S. newspapers in their print form will become “insignificant” in 2017.
The prediction was part of Dawson’s “Newspaper extinction timeline.” Mobile reading devices will become the primary news interfaces of the future, Dawson said. He also predicted that journalism will be largely “crowdsourced.”
Veteran media executive Alan Mutter blogged in January 2010 that increasing production costs could force many newspapers to stop printing within five years in a worst case scenario.
A January 2012 report by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future predicted that “most print newspapers will be gone in five years.”
“The only newspapers in America that will survive in print form will be at the extremes of the medium – the largest and the smallest,” wrote Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future. “It’s likely that only four major daily newspapers with global reach will continue in print: The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. At the other extreme, local weekly newspapers may still survive.”
The trends are clear and they aren’t good for print newspapers.
Young people don’t read newspapers. They prefer to get their news online. Classified ads, real estate listings, employment ads, movie show times and other advertisements have been picked up by Internet services. Google is taking the local advertising market with search-based ads. And national advertisers are moving to digital media.
In 2011, advertising revenues at newspapers fell to 1984 levels, according to the Newspaper Association of America. (Figures for 2012 should be out within two weeks.)
Adjusted for inflation, newspaper print ad revenues fell to a 60-year low in 2011, according to Mark Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan.
Business Insider editor-in-chief Henry Blodget put it succinctly: “Newspapers are screwed.”
And the number of journalists working at U.S. newspapers last year fell to its lowest point since the American Society of News Editors began its annual newsroom census in 1978, Mutter wrote.
Newspapers are struggling to adapt to the digital landscape.
The New York Times Co. is preparing to hold a fire sale for the Boston Globe and the Tribune Co. is looking to sell off its newspaper properties, including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, to concentrate on its broadcast business.
Some newspapers are finding more value in their real estate than their operations. A big trend has been newspapers selling their storied headquarters. (The Miami Herald, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Fort Worth Star-Telegram are among the newspapers that have unloaded their HQs in recent years, Poynter reports.) Even the Washington Post is interested in selling its primo digs.
Humor website the Onion did a funny take on the dire situation newspapers are in with its article “Economically Healthy ‘Daily Planet’ Now Most Unrealistic Part Of Superman Universe.”

Related resources:
Photos: Funny “newspaper fail” photos from Fail Blog (top) and DudeLOL.

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