The Future of Journalism

Newspapers as souvenirs

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.

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  1. The downward trend in daily newspaper sales is clear but I don’t believe that despair is the required response. TV, radio and online coverage will take a share but I believe these modes have all got their deficiencies. How many times have you been listening to the radio just as the kettle comes to the boil and you miss that fascinating news item or key fraction of the item? So frustrating. And TV? The same vulnerability, as the phone rings or there’s a knock at the door. Online is fine for fast topic interrogation but poor for detailed comprehension and evber so tedious! Daily newspapers have probably halved in sales volumes over the past decade or so. But remember it took years for the first newspapers to build significant sales. Maybe the London Evening Standard has the solution – instead of charging a cover price, just give the title away free. It seems to work for this publisher as advertising volumes burgeon.

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