Newspapers – Dying?

I read an interesting article today on Yahoo! Tech news about US newspapers fighting back.  Ummm… what are they going to do?  FORCE you to read a newspaper?

Although from time-to-time I may pick-up a newspaper and read it it’s generally for specific items.  I rarely read the paper for the current news.  News services on my BlackBerry / PC / Nintendo DS (homebrew) and Wii fill that role quite nicely.  Why would I want to read yesterdays news tomorrow when I can get it now?

You can get virtually any type of news you want, from any part of the world.  My wifes family is from Tanzania, I was able to subscribe to several African RSS feeds along with region specific newspapers so my wife can keep in touch with what is happening at “home”.

What else is happening out there is that everyday people, like you and I are using “new media” – the internet, blogs, dynamic websites, Twitter, FaceBook etc., to tell stories and report on what’s happening around their part of the world.  Think the Gaza Conflict just recently — there were many people in Gaza reporting via Twitter and their blogs.  Citizen journalists.

Here are some quotes from the article – the link to the article at Yahoo! can be found at the bottom of this page.

“We acknowledge the challenges facing the newspaper industry in today’s rapidly changing media world,” said Donna Barrett, a member of the Newspaper Project and Community Newspaper Holdings president and chief executive.

“However, we reject the notion that newspapers — and the valuable content that newspaper journalists provide — have no future,” Barrett, who is also president of Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, said in a statement.

I think they’ve got it all wrong – who said that journalists have no future?  They indeed have a future, but they need to take more advantage of the new technologies available and look at investing in newer technologies.  The one that I like immensely is electronic paper or eInk. 

You can already get this type of technology in items like the Sony eBook Reader.  I bought the eBook reader, but later returned it as viewing PDF files was VERY difficult and slow on it.  The reader itself was FANTASTIC!  I liked it quite a bit and would buy one once they are a little more powerful.  Now what you may not know is that the Sony eBook reader makes use of eInk technology.

Then there is the Amazon Kindle, and in fact there are several other ebook readers available out there.

Problem is that they are all limited in some way.

My idea of a perfect ebook reader would be one that has the ability to connect to the Internet via WiFi access, hotspots or my connection at home.  It would be cool if I could browse the web through the reader, since I’d like something totally “dumb” that would allow me to do this — and I’m not interested in a netbook right now, they are too expensive and for that price I can get a good laptop.

eInk is already in use in many mainstream items – check out their website at http://www.eink.com.  Also check out Polymer Vision at http://www.polymervision.com - their pocket ereader is what I call COOL TECHNOLOGY!  There is a picture of it…

Why wouldn’t the newspapers pay to bring advanced eInk technology more mainstream?  Imagine having a single sheet of flexible plastic that could be bent, folded or rolled up.  You could read the news at your leisure since the paper would have embedded transparent electronics that could download the latest stories and display them on your plastic paper (have you seen the television show Andromeda?  They use this type of technology, if you’ve seen the show then you’ll know what I mean).

Now if you could fully develop this type of technology then more people may be willing to use it and as you introduce each new generation to this type of technology then it becomes more accepted and within a few years everyone is using it.

Going back to the article, here is the last part of the article (emphasizing is my own):

More than 15,600 newspaper employees were laid off or took buyouts last year, according to figures compiled by Erica Smith, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist who tracks the cuts on her blog at graphicdesignr.net/papercuts.

The Chicago-based Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other dailies, is one of the most prominent victims of the crisis and filed for bankruptcy protection in December.

The prestigious New York Times is also struggling and reported last week that net profit fell 47 percent in the fourth quarter of the year.

The Times is also seeking to sell its stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team and to sell part of its two-year-old headquarters building to a firm that specializes in sale-leaseback transactions.

A survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press last year also found that the Internet has surpassed newspapers as the main source of national and international news for Americans.

That said, I would say that there is a problem  But they are “fighting” back – have a look at the website that newspaper executives have setup called NewspaperProject.org.  They are hoping that you, and I get involved in the discussion about the future of newspapers.

IMAGE – www.readius.com
Yahoo! Tech Story: http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20090203/tc_afp/usmedianewspapersindustryinternetfacebook

Mohamed

About Rob 'n Mo

I'm a man of mystery. I like anonymity, but on the WWW there is not much of it...
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