diamond geezer

 Sunday, January 10, 2010

202 0 Vision: extinction
I shall miss newspapers. Proper newspapers you buy, as opposed to ad-packed comics stacked with celebrity gossip and press releases, because their days are surely numbered. News now streams 60/60/24/7, so if I want to know the big story that's just happened I can find out everything online, whether Rupert Murdoch's erected a pointless paywall or not. I can read about it, watch video content about it, even join a conversation about it, all several hours before I pick up my paper from the news-stand. And yet I still prefer the print version to online, because of the different ways the two formats are structured. On paper I start at the front and work through to the end, scanning every story and reading those that pique my interest. But online there's a hidden hierarchy, a decision tree to negotiate, which means I overlook several stories I'd otherwise have found really interesting. Online I cherrypick my news, rather than taking a broader outlook, and I'm reliant on headlines and thumbnails to grab my attention. I like a newspaper I can carry, and scan, and spread out, and scribble on. But the smartphone generation don't think like that, preferring instant-free to delayed-physical, so newspaper sales are bound to tumble over the coming years. Titles will go to the wall, unsustainable by internet advertising alone. Campaigning journalism will fade, replaced by lo-cost reporting and PR-repackaging. Regular deliveries to the nation's smaller newsagents may even cease, kicking off a vicious circle of spiralling decline. Gradual extinction will save paper, but won't save papers. You youngsters may not care, but I shall miss them.

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