Saturday, June 09, 2007

'The future is digital'

"The mark of a good action is that it appears inevitable in retrospect."
Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish Essayist, Poet and Author of fiction and travel books, 1850-1894)

These Publishers Should Go Digital,,2-7-1442_2124805,00.html

Cape Town - Newspapers hoping to retain their readers and survive in the technological age must venture into the online and cellphone spheres, a World Association of Newspapers (WAN) meeting heard on Tuesday.

Speakers at a workshop said the newspaper was a dying breed but could avoid extinction by modernising its approach and extending its digital reach.

"We have to learn that online is where the action is, and we have to move our journalistic resources there," Mario Garcia, chief executive of the United States-based Garcia Media Group, told delegates to the WAN's 60th world newspaper congress and 14th world editors' forum being held in Cape Town.

He described the new path of news, starting with an e-mail or cellphone alert of a breaking story, followed by reading it online and ending in its publishing in a newspaper the following day.

In such a scenario, he said, there was little point in newspapers repeating the news hours after it first broke. They would have to learn to present readers with new, forward-looking story angles.

"Nowadays, you have to assume that the reader knows more than you do," he said.

'Circulations going down'

Martha Stone, director of the WAN's "shaping the future of the newspaper" programme, told delegates the time has come for news organisations to cross-train journalists to tell a story in print, radio, television or online.

"Many newspapers experience today their circulations going down, but their reach into the market place with the internet is surging," she said.

Leonard Brody, chief executive and co-founder of, a website for "citizen journalism" with more than 90 000 contributors in ordinary people worldwide, believed the monopoly of traditional media was being challenged by camera phones and other technology enabling anyone to find news.

"We are moving very quickly into an era where everything is being recorded," he said.

On Monday, a WAN report said newspapers around the world saw a 2.3% rise in circulation in 2006 and a growth in advertising revenue despite the rise of digital media.

'The future is digital'
By Virginie Montet,,2-13-1443_2090277,00.html

Washington - Reading your newspaper over a steaming cup of coffee will be a thing of the past in years to come as video and digital technology replace the print media of today, experts say.

"We know that broadband digital networks will be widespread and broadband wireless too," said Andrew Nachison, president of Ifocos, a media think tank.

Nachison predicted that podcasts, or video messaging, as well as blogs, books and internet sites will become accessible via wireless and mobile video services as the technology evolves.

"It's pretty obvious that digital connection is going to be like oxygen to our culture," he said. "We are witnessing an explosion of video creation and we're entering an era where video is everywhere."

Already, studies are showing that the number of newspaper readers in the United States is dwindling as cyperspace gains ground.

One recent report by the Pew research centre in Washington found that 43% of Americans today turn to the internet for news as opposed to 17% who rely primarily on a national newspaper.

Amy Eisman, head of the school of communication at American University in Washington, said consumers in the future can expect to find their news in the palm of their hand.

Download on demand

"Video, internet, audio, entertainment, we have the feeling that more and more is going to be on handheld devices," Eisman said. "Much more wireless broadband will be available globally ... and information will be probably less text-based than visual."

Nachison agreed, adding that technological changes will allow information to converge into a single device.

"A phone, a video camera, a GPS device, a personal communicator, that's the stuff we see today," he said. "When you start to look 10 years out, that gets harder."

He said videos will become the dominant medium for information with consumers able to download them on demand via the internet or cellphones.

"We are witnessing an explosion of video creation and we're entering an era where video is everywhere," Nachison said. "People are going to make video continuously.

"It won't be a special activity, it will be a normal activity the way we type e-mail is a normal activity now," he added. "Instead of getting text alerts on our phones, we'll get little video alerts."

With that in mind, newspapers as we know them may become a thing of the past in the not so distant future, experts say.

In 2006, for example, some 18 000 jobs were eliminated in newsrooms across America, an 88% increase over 2005 when 9 453 job cuts were announced.

"Print may be dying," Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which annually publishes a report on the state of the media in America, told AFP.

"I can't tell you whether newspapers will be printing in 10 or 15 years."

At the last annual "We Media" conference in February, which looks at the state of the media and is organised by Ifocos, experts predicted that consumers in the future will have access to a small media reader that will be flexible, very thin and light-weight and can be wrapped like a newspaper except that it will be digital.

On the economic front, advertising revenues are expected to change drastically as ads on the internet are not as lucrative as those in newspapers.

"Advertising revenue of a website is about 30% of what the newspaper equivalent would be," Rosenstiel said.

"For every dollar I make from a print reader, I'm only making about 30 cents if that person becomes an online reader."

He said he expects that to be offset by an increase in the price of internet access and cable.

"The scale of news enterprises is simply going to be crushed," Nachison said. "The revenues are going to decline and that will be challenging for the economics of journalism."

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