Wednesday, July 27, 2005


NAA, Others Miss the Point...

The recent issue of Presstime as published by the Newspaper Association of America discusses e-paper and other technologies and their ability to replace "newspapers." It's a good article, and can be found at

But it reminded me that people are missing the point. Newspapers will not be replaced. They will be rendered irrelevant over a long period of time. That is, each benefit that one gets from a newspaper will be supplied by a range of other things. eBay did not decide to kill the newspaper classified business directly, but it eats away at the use of classifieds, slowly. Each part of the newspaper is undermined by not one thing, but by many things. Why someone would want to "replace" a newspaper is beyond me. The market needs that are addressed by newspapers today are different than those of 50 years ago. But no one is in danger of picking up Tuesday's newspaper which is on newsprint, and then going to the newsstand on Wednesday and finding an electronic screen in the spot Tuesday's was. No, the newspaper as a consolidator of information is what will be disaggregated into many information alternatives and formats.

Let us not forget that newspaper owners are among the biggest investors in technologies that compete with newspapers: other publishers, broadcasters, web sites, and others, with more investments to come. Often the whining about the future of the newspaper is the whining of a division of a conglomerate that has other divisions cheering at the very same moment.

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