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Friday, September 25, 2009

Reporters Last to Know

A new survey found that a mere 5% of respondents would be willing to pay for their "favorite" (cyber) news provider, were it to charge. Even as the newspaper industry folds and the print magazine industry feels the crunch, these Luddites still don't seem to grasp the whole digital thing. But that isn't all there is; the long and short of it is an industry trying its very best to force its relevancy on a world which no longer finds it relevant.

A simple adoption of technology would go a long way in keeping these reporters afloat. Blogging is journaling, not journalism, but the technology itself is specifically keyed to the delivery of news, yet too many in the news business are wasting their time arguing the point. Newspapers remain just this side of viable only until the technology in development becomes commercially available - technology like folding screens, affordable "e-readers," and the like.

The folding screen technology, in particular, is designed around the newspaper and magazine - this technology will bring to life the "screamsheets" of Cyberpunk fiction: a folding display which provides digital content and refreshes itself. Some companies have even been developing this technology as disposable. If this latter model comes into vogue, the technology will be indistinguishable (practically speaking) from its predecessor. And even if digital reading devices never become widely affordable, the technology they use (which makes digital text easier to read, easier on the eyes, and etc.) will quickly be integrated into existing displays and software. Regardless, print periodicals are ridiculous in this day and age; print is dead.

And yet, print periodicals will take years to die-out, completely. Issues of portability, readability, et.al. aside, print is still viable low-tech to a large sector of the American population, and an even larger portion of the world market. Many people are unable to afford a computer or digital delivery in any form; others have a preference for mobile phones; and some even still listen to the radio and watch TV! The newspaper is likely to find its "rebirth" in local areas, where it provides the kind of coverage the larger outlets do not: what's going on in your immediate locale and the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Internet, alone, is far from the newspaper's lone killer. The entire world is bombarded by news from every angle - radio, subscription radio, TV, cable, satellite, specialty magazines, trade publications - and has been for years. Younger generations aren't even aware of a time when newspapers were the primary source of news -newspapers haven't been the primary method of news delivery since before I was born! The death of the newspaper is no great loss to America, only to newspaper industrialists who were too stubborn and short-sighted to consider their industry from a practical point-of-view before things got too far gone.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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