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Media (R)evolutions: Newspaper Extinction

Roxanne Bauer's picture
New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

The following graphic predicts the global extinction of newspapers (in their current form), starting with publications in North America, followed by Europe and East Asia, and reaching South Asia, Africa and South America last. Internationally, some of the factors contributing to the death of newspapers include huge losses in advertising revenues, ad-supported search engines, the rise in availability of mobile phones and other mobile devices; the increase in paid content and paywalls; and increased technology adoption and economic development around the world.

What do you think of the timeline?  Will newspapers really be extinct in the USA, UK, Canada, Norway, and Singapore by 2021? Is it more likely that they will be diminshed but not gone completely?

The dates for newspaper extinction are based on estimates that consider current trends.

Source: Future Exploration Network, for a larger image, click here.
The graphic was originally created by futurist Ross Dawson


Submitted by Vincent Peyregne on

Newspapers have already faced “new modes of circulating intelligence”. They successfully overcame the gloomy prediction of James Gordon Bennett, the editor of the New York Herald who predicted in 1845 that the telegraph - the disruptive tech of the time - would put many newspapers out of business. While prophets of doom constantly predict their extinction, newspapers are actually enjoying the largest audiences ever, continue to play a critical role in our communities, are still making money, and remain a good investment. They are attractive enough to engage with emerging technology providers and research centres around the world.

Collective programmes like NextMedia in Finland, NxtMedia in Norway, Stimuleringsfonds voor de Journalistiek in the Netherlands, and iMinds in Belgium are accelerating the process on an industry-wide scale. Sacramento Bee with Stanford University and the University of Southern California, Trinity Mirror and News Corp in the UK, The Irish Times, Alma Media in Finland, RBS with the University of Porto Alegre in Brazil, The New York Times, Schibsted, and Springer are just a few outstanding and visionary examples of ambitious and smart individual programmes. Research and innovation is key to the future of the news media value chain and over the past two years, I met with a growing number of publishers experiencing new models of creativity and innovation. They are investing in innovation, and are bravely reclaiming ownership over the cycle through a diversity of partnerships with traditional suppliers, start-ups, research centres, and innovation clusters. Why now ? The fact that our industry’s business model has changed dramatically in the early 2000s is one strong motivation. In 2007, 80% of newspaper media revenue in the US was generated from advertising. In 2013, less than half of total revenue (46%) was from advertising in daily and Sunday print newspapers. Another driving force in this reclaim process comes from the traditional industrial and technology ecosystem itself. For decades, almost centuries, innovation has been mostly driven by publishers’ traditional industrial partners. With so many big tech providers impacted by the weak market conditions in print, the vital innovative input from traditional industry providers has dried-up dramatically and publishers have been forced to look for alternative sources of innovation. Many publishers and journalists are now seizing power over technology. It's a challenge of long-term development. Similar to the environmental challenge, you can still survive without taking it into account, but you cannot hope to build your future.

WAN-IFRA’s mission is to help news media businesses, their technology officers, reporters and marketers to tap into this potential. In October 2013, we launched the Media Innovation Hub (miHub) and an International Alliance for Media Research and Innovation in June this year to serve that goal: helping publishers to connect and engage with research centres and the new generation of tech providers from around the world.

Media companies must now work intensively on the incoming disruption generated by the Internet of Things, wearable and hyper connected personal devices, mobile big and small data, to name just a few incoming revolutions that will accelerate the consumer technology disruption already experienced over the past decade. If mobile has been the major disruptive factor during the past ten years, the hyper connected world will be the next big wave. Answers will come from closer collaboration between research and experts who focus on these issues and deliver both business and tech solutions.

Why is it vital to embrace collective thinking on how to better connect media businesses with start-ups and research centres ?

Tom Negrete, Director of Innovation & News Operations at Sacramento Bee, California, provided me with the best arguments. Like many of his colleagues he understands the "need for traditional news publishers to evolve from a culture that is insular, guarded and top-down in its decision making to one that is collaborative, intellectually curious and data-driven in its decision making." Innovation produces value only if it is part of an ecosystem. You do not innovate if you are isolated and every media company needs suppliers and partners to accelerate the technology transfer from innovation to business. Exponential growth and adoption of consumer technologies drives new levels of service demands, including news. To really address this challenge, media companies must increase their experimenting curve and move fast; follow and anticipate. The more they cooperate as a community to support start-ups, and work upstream with research centres, the more they will have a chance to bridge the needs of their readers and engage them with powerful technologies.

If you want to build on better economy of scales in developing/acquiring tools you need and find news publishers with similar goals and needs to collaborate on potential projects.

If you want to build relationships, follow-up and communication tools needed to execute successful collaborative projects.

If you want to develop technology and road maps skills sets so publishers can self-assess where they are compared to similar publications, and better see the steps they could take to improve capabilities or execution on engagement and/or revenues.

If you want to identify academic expertise and interest so you can best marry it to right news publishers/projects, and are interested in developing interdisciplinary teams of academics to help tackle some the more complex problems and ambitious projects.

Then, I encourage you to join our growing community of advanced operations worldwide. We would be delighted to send you more information about our project for innovation and how it can help your businesses.

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