Can newspapers survive the online onslaught? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked this question and my answer’s always the same: there will be casualties along the way but they will adapt and they will survive though with nothing like the circulation or the margins they currently enjoy.
Jeff Jarvis has a challenge posted on Hubdub that a daily US paper with a circulation of 50,000+ will fold this year – nearly two-thirds of respondents believe one will.
Technological change doesn’t always lay waste to everything that went before. The superhighway that was the UK canal system was devastated by the arrival of the railways, and the railways themselves were massively pruned by the Beeching cuts as road became the dominant system.
The canals are still with us, reinvented for leisure use, having been key arteries that fed the industrial revolution and their own downfall. And railways have been revived in the face of stiff competition from the car and air travel.
Herein lies hope for the newspaper industry, maybe more niche and different from today but still with us for the foreseeable future.
Just as music buffs hunt down vinyl versions of their favourite sounds might we see newshounds of the future sniffing out specialist shops to consume content on paper?
After all, there’s nothing quite like a freshly ironed Times to start the day.