Are newspapers a thing of the past? Will the rise of the Internet put an end to the newspaper? Would we miss it anyway? That’s a raging debate these days. Many assume that the demise of the newspapers is in the hands of the Internet. The future of journalism is in the digital world of websites and apps—not newsprint—they say. But let us wait. Another group of people take a firm stand that newspapers have been with us for hundreds of years, and although all news may someday be found online, papers have plenty of life in them yet. So who’s right? Here are the views so that we can probe and ponder in order to draw a substantive conclusion.
Newspapers are dead
Newspapers are facing tough times; newspaper circulation is dropping, display and classified ad revenues are drying up, and the industry has experienced an unprecedented wave of layoffs in recent years. Big metro papers such as the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer have gone under, and even bigger newspaper companies such as the Tribune Company have been in bankruptcy.
According to a research study from McKinsey & Co. that was commissioned by The New York Times, newspapers continue to struggle to shift to digital distribution.
McKinsey study found that The New York Times can expect to sell a maximum of 1 million online subscriptions at $30 each, but 800,000 to 900,000 subscriptions is more likely to be the maximum.
“The Times already hit the low end of that projection in June with 831,000 paying online readers. And the number of new customers it added in the three months leading up to that point, about 32,000, were mostly for the new NYT Now app, a slimmed-down version of the Times that costs $8 a month. It looks like McKinsey got it right.”
Unless newspapers can find a way to transform their business models, Future Exploration Network’s extinction predictions for newspapers as we know them could come to fruition even sooner. Research keeps showing again and again that the end is near. How soon the end will arrive has yet to be determined.
Newspapers are not dead
Newspapers have a long history that dates back hundreds of years. While their roots are in the 1600s, newspapers thrived in the USA well in the 20th century. Newspapers are more versatile. Blogs and forums do not carry the weight of a well-established newspaper. Newspapers are more convenient, cheap, easy, and comfortable when compared to a traditional laptop. Smart phones are expensive to connect to the Internet with and easy to lose the signal, while newspapers are still the medium of choice for commuters on busy trains and buses. Radio, TV, and the Internet were all tried to wipe out newspapers, but newspapers still exist. Contrary to expectations, many newspapers remain profitable, although they no longer have the 20% profit margins they did in the late 1990s. Although digital pundits started predicting the demise of print, newspapers still take significant revenue from print advertising.
Newspapers remain trusted sources of information that people turn to cut through the clutter of (potentially fake) online news or for the real story when social media outlets show them information on an event slanted in any number of ways.
“Newspapers are not going anywhere.”