The decline in the number and variety of newspapers on sale in even the most well-frequented news-stands in the EU area of Brussels is striking. A few years ago it was not uncommon to see two or three different titles from peripheral countries such as Finland, Ireland, Greece and even Turkey. Today, one cannot find even a print copy of The Guardian of the UK and many of the leading dailies of other smaller countries.
Later, but on the same day, at a busy out of town retail shopping centre a small queue had formed at a new kiosk apparently selling newspapers. On closer inspection, it was a stall selling replica facsimile front pages to those seeking a souvenir of a birthday, marriage or other memorable date.
Is this the future of print journalism – as replica souvenirs for those of us old enough to recall what a newspaper is or was?
There is no doubt that the main future of journalism is digital and a part of the future of digital is mobile. But in a timely warning this week, the Murdoch empire News Corp announced the closure after 21 months of ‘The Daily’ an online publication exclusively designed for the iPad. Thus while the future is digital and an increasing part of that digital future is mobile: mobile alone may be insufficient. The best and more successful publications increasingly offer mobile, tablet and PC compatible versions. The Guardian still publishes a print version in its home market but has made enormous strides in terms of increased readership and advertising revenues in North America and elsewhere far beyond the UK with mobile, tablet and PC versions.