Newspapers in a ‘Post-Print’ World

picture-41A terrific and dead-on piece in The Atlantic contemplates the potential end of the NY Times print edition. Here are some excerpts and some thoughts:

The collapse of daily print journalism will mean many things. For those of us old enough to still care about going out on a Sunday morning for our doorstop edition of The Times, it will mean the end of a certain kind of civilized ritual that has defined most of our adult lives. It will also mean the end of a certain kind of quasi-bohemian urban existence for the thousands of smart middle-class writers, journalists, and public intellectuals who have, until now, lived semi-charmed kinds of lives of the mind. And it will seriously damage the press’s ability to serve as a bulwark of democracy. Internet purists may maintain that the Web will throw up a new pro-am class of citizen journalists to fill the void, but for now, at least, there’s no online substitute for institutions that can marshal years of well-developed sourcing and reporting experience . . .

In this scenario [the NY Times without the print edition], nytimes.com would begin to resemble a bigger, better, and less partisan version of the Huffington Post, which, until someone smarter or more deep-pocketed comes along, is the prototype for the future of journalism: a healthy dose of aggregation, a wide range of contributors, and a growing offering of original reporting. This combination has allowed the HuffPo to digest the news that matters most to its readers at minimal cost, while it focuses resources in the highest-impact areas. What the HuffPo does not have, at least not yet, is a roster of contributors who can set agendas, conduct in-depth investigations, or break high-level news. But the post-print Times still would.

The article captures what’s happening and what’s likely to happen: the end of many daily print newspapers, preserving profitable Sunday or weekend editions (e.g., the Chrisitan Science Monitor). 

The NY Times in particular is a trusted, multi-media brand that could potentially survive the scenario described in the article. However there are few other papers that could (WSJ, USAToday and a few others). The Web will provide the content, albeit of potentially lesser quality in most cases, that may disappear with the end of most daily print newspapers. Wire services such as AP, AFP and Reuters would dominate the online news, supplemented by commentary, columns and blogging. Video from TV and amateurs alike would also be prevalent. 

People are more interested in news today than at any time in the past arguably. They’re just not willing to pay for a daily newspaper. 

We can’t predict the future with certainty; and the “consequences for democracy” of the demise of daily print newspapers might not come to pass at all. In fact the Web might shine more light on government, etc. But we clearly seem to be reaching the end of an era culturally. 

Take a look at the article and let me know whether you agree or disagree with its predictions and observations.

One Response to “Newspapers in a ‘Post-Print’ World”

  1. Stream o’ consciousness… | Mike Orren Says:

    […] Newspapers in a ‘Post-Print’ World […]

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