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Brain Buster

Newspapers and my $100 Dollars

Jay has $100 of mine, it’s just a matter of when I can go pick it up. At the beginning of the year I put a line in the sand and said that Newspapers (and the 6pm News) would be gone by 2/26/13. Thanks to the comments of some readers, notably Chip who reminded me that AM Radio has yet to die, and Jay who put up $100 to say that he won’t see a day in his lifetime with no papers, I was convinced that although things will not get better for this medium, it wouldn’t die.

But then last month, I learned that what I consider to be Boston’s most iconic newstand is closing up. I had been convinced that it was a behavioral issue – and too many people enjoy reading the paper -  but what about the economic side? Printing news on paper and having people drive it around on trucks is a business model that can’t survive compared to delivering it online? Maybe I do have a shot at the cash by 2013…

2 replies on “Newspapers and my $100 Dollars”

Newspapers have undergone countless revisions over the past century alone. Go visit NewspaperArchive.com and look at papers from the early 1900’s to see how things have changed. Local newspapers had whole sections devoted to people’s comings and goings in town. “News” consisted of things like goats drinking white lead (true story involving a relative).

Newspapers will continue to evolve. Will they look the same in 2013 as they did 5 years ago? No. We’re already seeing some of that change taking place. Classified sections are shrinking and news and editorial content are being adjusted.

Frequency, in particular, may change. Perhaps some will switch to Sunday only-publication. That tends to be the highest revenue-generator of the week anyway. And for many communities, the local news isn’t so urgent as to require daily attention. Of course, that will require rethinking everything from editorial costs to distribution mechanisms.

So, be prepared for your 2013 newspaper to be different from what you are accustomed to. But you’ll still be able to read it — and probably even get those lovely newsprint smudges on your fingers.

I’m standing by my prediction, which was specifically “…if there ever one week when it is impossible to buy or receive for free a current print newspaper within the City of Toronto…” Canadian newspapers BTW are faring no better (and in many cases worse) than those in the U.S. Part of the reason I was specific about it being a full week is because I agree with Chip, newspapers are going to change and frequency of publication will be one of the things that will change. I do think there will be enough people who want a physical newspaper, and enough advertiser who want to reach those people, that there will still be a business even if it’s radically different (and smaller) than what we see today.

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