The previous post on media consolidation transitions nicely into the topic of the "struggling" newspaper industry, which comes into the spotlight with news that the Philadelphia Media Network -- publisher of the the Philadelphia Inquirer and its sister publications, The Daily News and www.philly.com, may be on its way to changing hands again.
I'm not going to pretend to have all the numbers crunched on newspaper revenue -- whether digital or print is more sustainable -- but I'll say up front that I don't believe that print is dead, contrary to what the newspaper industry would have you believe. Just a few numbers to throw out there: two-thirds of people in the U.S. do not use smartphones, one third of people in the U.S. don't use internet, and an average of one Redbox movie rental kiosk opens every hour. Are communities really ready to say goodbye to their local print newspapers and embrace a short-sighted digital-only version?
|Image from wikipedia|
Couched in such affable terms, it's easy to see the appeal of such a model, in theory. But that's just it. It's a theory that doesn't quite mesh with reality. While welcoming the crowd into their virtual newsroom (remember, there are no offices, desks, chairs or employees anymore) they are at the same time outsourcing jobs and whittling away at what once was and could still be a cornerstone of communities. If these are the consequences of going digital, isn't it worth exploring some other options?
If the people leading the industry had it their way, that would be a naive and nostalgic perspective on a vestige from a bygone era. But, like Douglas Page points out in a great article that digs deeper into the issue and offers great insights into other ways of looking at the future of newspapers, "Planes and automobiles are also here to stay. But they haven't killed off bicycles, trains and ships."