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The future of newspapers
19 June 2012
Chris Cooke reviews differing viewpoints in the media regards the future of print
So, just how long will newspaper companies continue to publish content via the trusty platform that is paper and ink? And, while the printed newspaper remains, will it continue to be the core product of a news publisher – in terms of investment, revenue or prestige?
Opinion is increasingly divided in media circles about the future of the printed newspaper. Most used to assume that the printed product – while perhaps ultimately doomed – would be around for quite some time yet, though some now agree with Irish Times editor Hugh Linehan who noted at an event earlier this year that the sort of digital newspapers and magazines that are now appearing on tablet devices like the iPad could bring about the death of print much quicker, such digital platforms offering many of the advantages the traditional newspaper has over a website. If tablet devices become more affordable and therefore mass market, perhaps print could disappear a lot quicker than we all thought – or at least become a secondary weekly digest and feature-based output alongside a daily iPad edition and website.
But not everyone is convinced. And, according to The Guardian, Jon O’Donnell, Commercial Director at the London Evening Standard, is among them. He told the Media360 event in London last month: “The printed version has a healthy life ahead of it. The digital world is immense. But people still like the tangible asset of a newspaper. They like to tear them and dispose of them”.
Of course the Standard is a little different to many of its competitors since deciding to go the totally ad-funded free route – a strategy which is expected to come good this year when the paper goes into profit again. Free publications, where they work (news and entertainment content in a metropolitan location mainly), have generally enjoyed more success in the last decade while newstand titles have been, in the main, in decline. So whether O’Donnell’s optimism, based on what’s happening at the Standard, can be expanded across the rest of the news media, remains to be seen.