Much has been written about newspapers and their demise. We have all read stories of how newspapers are bleeding all over the world and in cases like the Los Angeles Times (and The Chicago Tribune) filing for bankruptcy in the United States, not to mention that our own traditionally profitable newspapers are slowly losing profits and revenues.
However, Rupert Murdoch had gone on the offensive and has spoken of the possibility of newspapers charging for access to online content, he has also flagged the possibility that newspapers could be delivered only in digital within 10 years.
In the last few weeks the heavyweights of the newsprint world gathered in Chicago to come together to launch a group offensive against free content.
Today newspapers only push a certain amount of information directly to their websites and hold back on unique investigative information and journalism until after it has appeared in the print versions, I can understand this, but it is not sustainable.
Newspapers have to return to their roots to survive, they have to understand that the reason the majority of people read their content, is because it is unique not because we want to hear a, (we can get that anywhere).
Organisations like Fairfax and News Ltd over the past 20 years have invested more in sales and marketing and less in investigative journalism and this will end with the digital newspaper revolution.
Newspapers believe people will pay for this content but I am skeptical for a number of reasons. The first being that newspapers have invested less and less over the years in investigative journalism and more and more in marketing and sales. Secondly the classifieds have been bleeding to death because online just kills it in so many ways (content, days on market, accessability). This has been one of many factors in the demise of print and many newspapers have just resorted to tacky journalism trying to reach a younger audience whilst alienating their base.
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The Kindle device has proven that even an ugly little black and white wireless reading device can be popular and profitable. All it needs is for a company to enhance this offering and take it to another level (cue Apple and its touted color reader) and we have something that all newspapers need – a vibrant competitive wireless newsreader market.
This is your digital newspapers, so digital newspapers will allow agents to deliver targeted listings with branding, digital newspapers will give you a canvass to work with and allow you to brand your agency around your listings (you hope), unlike traditional newspapers – digital newspapers will allow you to carry a wealth of property information and local sales data alongside those listings.
So why would we pay for this? You still buy magazines don’t you? Wireless Readers will demolish the gossip/celebrity magazine industry but it will revive the newspaper/unique content industry because we WILL pay for this – but only to a level.
Wireless Readers will be thin, light, color and black and white and have 6 – 10 hours battery life, they will serve a number of purposes but digital newspapers/ebooks, email, web will be the primary market.
The price? $9 a month? That’s about the money, it is all about volume – and newspapers will actually see a revival and in the cases of companies with quality journalists, a good news reputation and content like Fairfax (Sydney Morning Herald – The Age) will thrive, whereas papers like the Telegraph and the Herald Sun will stick to the print versions longer and die a slow death (blue collar)
Fairfax will eat News Limited in Australia for breakfast for another reason, classifieds. News Limited pretty much owns the tacky side of print in Australia and only has one newspaper it can be editorially proud of, The Australian. As for online classifieds, it has realestate.com.au and even that has a limited shelf life given its damaged reputation amongst the industry and agents.
The future of digital newspapers will be all about journalism and content as we can get all the other stuff elsewhere. It has to be about what made it successful in the first place- quality journalism – quality investigations, matched with quality content.
Throw in online classifieds and a brilliant interface and you have a winner. I pay for content today (software design website) , but they only own me only as long as the provide quality unique content ($7 per month).
So sit back and enjoy your newspaper with your coffee because it is nearing its end. No? You might think this, but just imagine if print newspapers lost just 10% of its readers to digital, now think about the fact they are already bleeding $ on print as of todays readership. Now you see it 🙂
It may take 5 – 7 years but it is coming! Your thoughts?