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Monday, October 10, 2005

US: "Newspaper industry needs an iPod moment"

Thinking about the future of newspapers, David Carr writes in the The New York Times an article titled "Forget Blogs, Print Needs Its Own IPod". Regarding the state of newspapers, "the last of the great analog technologies", Carr writes, "The newspaper business is in a horrible state. It's not that papers don't make money. They make plenty. But not many people, or at least not many on Wall Street, see a future in them. In an attempt to leave the forest of dead trees and reach the high plains of digital media, every paper in the country is struggling mightily to digitize its content with Web sites, blogs, video and podcasts ... But what the newspaper industry really needs is an iPod moment."

Just as the iPod was "a new way of listening to music" and helped the music industry, that was fighting with downloadable music, the newspaper industry needs "a device for data consumption ... (that is) uplinked and updated constantly: a digital player for the eyes, with an iTunes-like array of content available at a ubiquitous volume and a low, digestible price." Newspapers could live long on such a device.

However, Carr mentions technical and economic problems with such a device. Technically, it is not as simple as one might think to construct such a tool. Esther Dyson, consultant on digital issues, says, "It looks simple to come up with a tablet that works, but it is not. In order to have the power and portability you need, you need power. The screen is the part of the device that uses the most power." But even if those problems would be solved there is still the problem of how to make money from it. Carr states, "Because there is no scarcity of ad space on the Web, you cannot charge nearly so much for a banner ad on a page with millions of hits as you can for a double-page spread in a national paper."

However, a possible solution could be an iTunes-like business model. Carr claims, "As iTunes has demonstrated, there is a vast swath of consumers who are willing to pay for what they want and avoid the moral taint of unauthorized use ... That is the future that newspapers have to prepare for. Readers no longer care so much who you are, they just want to know what you know."

Even if the future may look grim for good reporting, Carr concludes, "But in a frantic age where the quality of the information can be critical, being a reliable news source humming away in everyone's backpack sounds just useful enough to be a business."

Source: The New York Times

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on October 10, 2005 at 11:02 AM | Permalink


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