Road Ahead: Is The Internet The Chief Threat To Newspapers?

Yes, we are going to be beset with more product offers in more ways than ever before, according to a MediaPost Research Brief (Trendy Trends for 2011) reporting on the 11 top 2011 consumer trends to watch for, asMobile devices constant connections. compiled by Number 3 among the 11 is: reaching us wherever we are. “Mobile devices and social networks allow consumers to constantly receive targeted offers and discounts, even at the point of sale from a rival brand. Other trends among the 11 are: acts of kindness as a brand’s means to achieve a humanizing “touch” with consumers; increasing consumer “openness” to new products, new services and new ways of communicating; more “twin-summers” groupings of consumers with similar buying patterns, likes and dislikes and lifestyle leasing business models where, for many consumers access is better than ownership.” Like Daimler’s Car2go.

However, these Internet trends are not the chief threat to journalism and newspapers in particular, according to a new book published by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The book is titled, “The Changing Business of Journalism and its Implications for Democracy.” According to its authors, who studied the newspaper industry in seven nations, “In many cases the Internet is not the main challenge facing the business of journalism.” Click here for review of the book “Crisis? What Crisis? Study of the future of the international news industry.

Another take on the Internet’s effect on journalism is offered by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, authors of Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and The World. In a piece carried by The Huffington Post, they say print is dead in the long term but journalism will survive because people will pay for compelling, differentiated value and that journalists as professional bloggers can make a living contributing to virtual newspaper networks.

Daniel Ambrose asks, “in a world where every piece of content is one click away, will readers settle often for second best?” He says “no” in “Two Platforms Are Better The One” written for Online Publishing Insider. Ambrose believes, “quality, actual expertise and genuine human connections will rise to the top.” From a business perspective he quotes an early Internet entrepreneur and investor, Bo Peabody, “high quality content has a lifetime that allows it to keep on earning revenue after it is first published.” In addition to longevity, Ambrose opines that high quality content, i.e., news, analysis or entertainment, can and does transition from one platform to another because “Trust Travels.”  And, as he sees it, print publishers who develop multi platforms for their product “will be better able to invest in the high quality content that builds audiences and profits.”

This theory is supported somewhat by The Chicago Tribune’s use of multi-platforms and channels to increase its revenues and increase its staff by 12 percent while in bankruptcy. An instructive look at the Tribune’s revitalization is provided by Dianne Mermigas, editor-at-large for OMA Magazine, in “Second Coming in the Second City.”