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Crosbie: Newspapers Could Die Within 10 Years

Without radical change newspapers could be done for within 10 years, according to consultant Vin Crosbie. a long analysis he writes:

More than 1,250 of the 1,500 daily U.S. newspapers are owned by publicly-traded companies. Their stockholders, particularly the institutional ones, aren’t going to wait until the the day when it becomes no longer economically feasible to produce printed editions. And not until it becomes no longer economically feasible to produce either the printed or Web editions. No, they’ll want to sell their cash cow to a butcher or themselves chop it up into parts long before then (as Thomson Newspapers did years ago).

How much time is left for the American industry unless it can make radical changes? Five, ten, twenty years? I think the answer is between five and ten years because Wall Street is already leading the steers by their noses up the ramp.

Alas it is like a cliff hanger because Crosbie says it is late at night and he will continue on this thought later. So he does not offer up the radical change needed, but before signing off he does say:

It is true that most newspapers have lost touch with their readers, and that ‘citizen journalism’ can provide some fractional help. But I think shorter stories, more graphics, having each editor and reporter write a blog, and even ‘citizen journalism’ are purported solutions that merely attempt to either change the spots on the cow’s hide or are occasionally useful but more often distracting ‘cow pies.’

The radical changes the newspaper industry needs to implement arise from a more true understanding by that industry of why newspaper readership began declining well before the Internet was opened to the public; about why one billion people worldwide have gone onto the Internet after it was opened to the public (they didn’t do it to read traditional media on computer screens), and about why all that plus the misnamed and illusionary ‘fracturing’ of media audiences requires semantic solutions.

This is a continuation of earlier thoughts by Crosbie.

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