From paper to pixels
|As the newspaper groups release their latest readership figures, Hugh Oram asks how long will it be before readers will be getting all their news and features online?|
Is the end in sight for traditional newspapers using
newsprint? Does a new dawn await the industry as it moves to a web-based
platform? Nearly all newspapers now have both print and web as part of a
transition phase. Inevitably, online will become dominant. Ironically, print
quality, including colour repro, has never been better in Irish newspapers.
Many pundits, especially in the US, are already writing off
the traditional newspaper and cite the recent example of the Cincinnati Post, an afternoon newspaper
whose circulation and that of its sister paper, the Kentucky Post, fall from 270,000 nearly 50 years ago, to 27,000
today. So it turned off its printing presses and moved its entire operation online.
pundits say that newspapers will have to shift to pixels as younger people cannot
be bothered with newspapers and the same trend will happen worldwide. Optimists
think that the twin-platform channel approach will continue indefinitely, but realists
do not read the Guardian daily on its
website and rarely, if ever, buy a copy of the paper.
It is great for accessing first-rate news coverage but it
does nothing for the revenues of the Guardian Media Group. Ann Corcoran of
marketing agency Limetree says while press still commands the lion's share of
the media cake and she does not envisage that changing any time soon, most 20
to 33-year-olds only know newspapers online. US research shows that less than 20
per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds read a daily paper.
Bill Gates of Microsoft predicts that all newspaper
operations will have transferred online by 2020, less than 12 years away. Nigel Brophy of Billetts Ireland says that within 15 years, traditional
press here will be in severe decline, with 95 per cent online penetration.
Gavin O'Reilly of Independent News & Media (IN&M))
and president of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) thinks otherwise and
is adamant that newspapers have a rosy future. O'Reilly sees the threat emanating
from consumer apathy.
O'Reilly points out that News International boss Rupert
Murdoch, the world's most influential media owner, whose titles include the Sunday Times, while investing in MySpace,