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The end of printed newspapers is nigh
Thursday, 22nd December 2011
It is the season for end of year round-ups and New Year predictions – see Jan Knight’s comments this week on trends to look for in 2012 – to which I am able to add another one: the editorsweblog last week referred to a new study from the Annenberg Center at the University of South Carolina for the Digital Future, which predicts the end of printed newspapers in the United States within the next five years.
The report, entitled Is America at a Digital Turning Point? is due to be published in full in early 2012, however, the press release reveals some of the report’s findings: while increasing, and in some cases non-stop digital access has benefited users in many ways and has provided them with a wealth of information, it has come at a high price in terms of lifestyle. Almost constant online access has affected users’ health, time and privacy.
The report’s conclusion on the future of print newspapers is quite stark. The authors believe that only the big daily newspapers including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today and the small local weeklies will survive in print format. The medium-sized regional newspapers are predicted to switch to digital-only editions.
While industry commentators agree that the future of printed news is bleak, the jury on when we say goodbye to the hard copy is still out. Veteran newspaper man John Robinson believes that it will take at least 10 years before the US newspaper sector turns off the print presses.
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom Guardian readers will have noticed a much slimmed down newspaper. In September the Guardian announced the first of a gradual downsizing of the paper, by reducing some of its print supplements, while last week the paper announced further cuts to the printed paper – all part of its “digital first strategy”, reported by Livewire here.
While the physical paper is shrinking, as a consequence of falling ad revenues and changing consumer habits, the Guardian is concentrating its efforts on digital content and ebooks. Guardian readers have however been assured that while the newspaper’s volume is shrinking, this will not be at the expense of breaking news or analysis. These are still seen as vital components of the paper.
So whether you like it or not - newspapers will, like books, move to digital access. It is just a question of time.
By Penny Crossland
Penny Crossland is the owner of CH Business Research, a consultancy specialising in investigative research and market intelligence. Penny conducts research projects for clients from a variety of industry sectors, including financial services, management and security consultancy, FMCG, publishing and retail. Fluent in German, she also translates academic papers and corporate material.
Before establishing her business in 2001, Penny was Research Manager at OC&C Strategy Consultants in London. Penny graduated from Bristol University with a degree in German and Politics and has a Masters degree from London University in contemporary German Literature. She became interested in all aspects of business information through working for an industrial market research company in New York.
Penny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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