Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Outing ends with 10 predictions for newspapers

Steve Outing has filed his last column for Editor & Publisher - unless the title gets a last minute reprieve - but will continue to comment about the news media on his blog.
He has said goodbye to E&P with 10 predictions on the future of newspapers:

1. Small-town independent newspapers don't grow much, but they are able to continue with healthy print circulation for several more years. But eventually, they start hurting more, like their metro cousins, as local advertisers shift more and more money to cheaper, more effective digital advertising opportunities.

2. Urban metro papers continue to shrink. More papers stop publishing in print on some days of the week; others go to Sunday-only for print and online/mobile for the rest of week; and a few go entirely digital. Unfortunately, we see some more newspapers die.

3. The wave of small news start-ups -- non-profits, hyper-local for- and non-profits, placebloggers who've figured out how to make a living, combo professional- and citizen-reporting digital news services, university-affiliated news entities, etc. -- that we see emerging today grows rapidly. Journalists laid off or bought out by newspapers start many of these services, aided by new companies that help them on the advertising, business and technology sides (e.g., GrowthSpur ), and new local digital ad networks serving all local media, new and old.

4. Some of these small entities partner with local newspapers, gaining for themselves revenue to support their mission, while giving the newspapers quality content much cheaper than the papers could produce it themselves. This is especially the case with costly and time-intensive investigative journalism, where local non-profit public-interest news sites (a la VoiceofSanDiego ) partially support themselves with money from "old media."

5. News aggregators (Google News, et al) and personal digital agents (e.g., Circulate, but more likely to come from the likes of Google or Facebook) become the norm for consumers getting their customized news streams on their computers, mobile phones, e-readers, and other devices. As a result, newspaper Web sites become less important. Newspaper publishers and editors learn, in order to survive, how to get their content into all the appropriate streams. And they develop ways to monetize content as it flees the home pond (Web site) for the many new streams (aggregators, agents, social news streams, etc.). Those that don't, die.

6. The saber-rattling over pay walls at newspaper Web sites will die down as Google, which many newspaper executives seem to perceive as the No. 1 cause of their woes, accommodates their concerns and introduces more technology that helps news producers turn digital dimes into quarters (or more). Paid content by newspapers is supported by new systems, but it's a small amount of the content they produce.

7. Newspaper companies that do survive and prosper do so by devoting significant resources (at executive and technical levels) to mobile as the next platform of opportunity. They don't repeat the mistakes of a decade earlier made with the Web, but instead raise mobile to a top priority.

8. Newspapers that do well adapt quickly to the instant nature of crowd-sourced news (e.g., aggregating and filtering eyewitness reports from Twitter), rather than fight it.

9. Some newspaper companies survive the journey across the chasm between the old print-centric model and a new digital model. These are most likely the companies whose board of directors install new leadership not chained to the success of past business models. Among the survivors, we're more likely to see repeats of National Public Radio's digital transition, where a new CEO (Vivian Schiller) was hired because of her digital experience, mindset and vision, even though she had less of that for radio.

10. I continue to write about the future of news on my personal blog, but don't emphasize newspapers so much.

No comments: