Blue Screen Of Duds

Where the alter ego of codelust plays

Thoughts on the future of the news publishing industry

with 2 comments

These are thoughts that have been lingering in my mind for a while now regarding the future of the news publication business. I have been putting off publishing them for a while to write that perfect long winding essay, but spare time being such a luxury these days, numbered points will have to do for the time being.

  1. The newspaper as we know it, printed on paper and published once or twice a night, won’t survive it to the time when the generation after the next joins the workforce. It is an outdated endeavor that is mostly supported by a dying habit, which won’t find any resonance in the generation to come after the next. Additionally, we’ll also get to save so many trees and help better content to get published by means of cheaper publishing costs, compared to awful and painful experience that procuring newsprint is these days.
  2. The concept of a newspaper, though, won’t die. While Kindle is not the future, it is a pointer to the direction that we’ll head out in the future. While we have historically been happy to carry more than one portable device (mobile phones, MP3 players, pagers, walkmans etc), the trend definitely is pushing towards converged devices (mobile phones and PIMs, mobile phones and MP3 players, mobile phones and GPS units). Something really has to give here. The gazillion dollar question is how would it be possible to marry the existing form factor with the ease of distribution that is associated with newspapers these days.
  3. Wire agencies will no longer be firms that syndicate content to other publications. They are just another of the publishers out there, marking them as competition to the publications than be seen as a facilitator or as an ally. One of the silliest things they have done till date is to sue Google for indexing content that belonged to them. There is decreasing value in the wire copy content segment for publishers who use them and what Google did as a result, to ask publishers to put in the “NO FOLLOW” tag in wire stories, effectively meant that the publishers were losing out on additional revenue that Google got them. Ergo, they have increasingly lesser reasons to carry wire stories, especially with the restrictions that are pushed through in the terms of use, now that multimedia is a staple part of any news publication’s diet.
  4. Publications will do something dramatic to survive. In all likelihood, this will be to drop their agency deals and pool resources to cut costs. Think about it: newspapers and television channels push out some fifty reporters at a Prime Minister’s press conference to report the same boring bits and bytes. There used to be a love for the language the way in which was used in the old time that could have earlier justified it. But the new zest is for sharper, crisper language and not 900 word works of art that nobody has the time to read. The unions and the current generation of journalists won’t take to this one lightly, but they can do it the painless way and restructure in peace or do it the painful way: to fight it and make a mess of things. The news publication of the future will have most of its senior reporters covering non-unique stories, while a pool of common reporters will do what an agency does now, at a considerably lesser cost.
  5. Distribution will also undergo a major change. We could have, instead of newspaper stalls, subscription points where you can transfer content to your device from kiosks through bluetooth (imagine the security nightmare! Or, if you are smart, you would start investing in a company that provides secure and reliable bluetooth connects through some form of fingerprinting) or wifi. The displays will show leading pages, very much like a normal newspaper vendor’s stall these days, but you won’t be buying the edition, you would be transferring it. Once transferred, you can read, share and suggest the content, making you a subconscious editor of a virtual publication.

Written by shyam

December 14, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Posted in advertising, Google, Media

2 Responses

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  1. About distribution. I like deadwood version of news. The only downside of print is lack freshness (compared to online copy.) Combining freshness of content with paper by, say on-demand printing would be really nice. The newspaper stalls (or subscription points, as you call) will give you printed copy of latest newspaper, possibly tailored for your own preferences.


    December 19, 2007 at 10:38 am

  2. On-demand printing makes for higher cost per kiosk/outlet and too many moving parts, cartridges to replace etc eating into margins. not to mention cost of paper. Moreover, nostalgia does not work for younger people :-)


    December 19, 2007 at 4:29 pm

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