The future of the newspaper

From: “European papers optimistic on future — with web’s help” (Sent to me by M&G Online editor, Riaan Wolmarans.)

…but European editors interviewed by the Associated Press appear strikingly optimistic about the future. They see the online media explosion more as an opportunity than as a threat, and express confidence they can provide the content readers need — whether it’s accessed on newsprint, a computer screen, a smart phone or a futuristic electronic scroll.

It is one of the more grounded articles I’ve read on this subject. With the rise of online media and online citizen media, the role of newspapers will change. And no — the newspaper industry will not die, but innovate, adapt and continue to thrive. The following however may happen:

  • Newspapers will become increasingly niched and expensive. They will be a luxury/lifestyle item. Advertisers will love them.
  • Newspapers that concentrate on comment & in-depth articles as opposed to hard news articles will do better.
  • Newspapers that integrate with their online presence, with interactive features and multimedia will do better.
  • Dailies are going to be under more pressure than weeklies. Weekend weeklies will do better.
  • Dailies or weeklies that serve developing markets or lower-income group readers will continue to thrive until internet connectivity becomes more affordable and widespread. Online access via mobile phones will pose a challenge to these publications in the future, but it won’t be nearly as dramatic as that of PC-based online useage.
  • Classified advertising will be almost exclusively online and mobile-based in the future

– Sunday Times (weekly, but should be more analytical)
– Mail & Guardian (weekly & analytical, needs more multimedia)
– Daily Sun (daily aimed at lower income readers, should investigate mobile opportunities)
– Weekender (analytical, but needs a better web presence)
– Finweek & FM (online LSM crossover, but weekly, analytical, gloss magazine)

Under pressure:
– The Star (should be more analytical and reposition itself)
– The Citizen (more analytical, less wire content)
– Business Day (v. strong cross-over LSM with online reader, but strong analytical coverage)

Matthew Buckland: Publisher


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