Wednesday, May 31, 2006

 

Will the Internet destroy Fleet St?

I was hoping to post on PMQs and watch Prezza standing in for Tony until I discovered it's the Whitsun Recess. So instead, I became intrigued by the Guardian's leader which addresses the subject of what the internet might do to the newspaper industry. Already, in 2006, we learn, the web takes a bigger share of advertising sales than the press. And the future trajectories of the percentages are likely to continue in opposite directions. To make the prognosis worse for Fleet St, newspaper sales have been in decline for the last couple of decades and young people are not gaining the habit: households containing people under 30, currently spend only 80p a week on papers: that's about one paper bought a week. No wonder political literacy is so low.

So are newspapers likely to be a thing of the past in a few decades time? Could be, but I wonder. Whenever a new medium emerges predictions of how it will clear the field are made and then somehow don't happen. For example:

a) that televsion would destroy the cinema whilst they both flourish and have even managed a simbiotic relationship.

b)In the nineties I once quoted in a textbook chapter on the media a prediction from a Sunday that newspapers written on paper would soon be replaced by a fine plastic reusable tissue which would be 'filled' each day via the internet. I deleted the quote for the next edition and I'm still waiting.

But let's suppose the number of titles decline and old fogies like myself, presumably by then in my nursing home, have to shell out a huge wedge of my pension just to sit in my bathchair and read my daily Guardian or Times? What impact will this decline have on the print media? I can only begin to speculate but:

i) so much of this will be conditional on what type of transmission vehicle emerges as dominant and here we're in the hands of technological advances. Maybe that refillable plastic will finally make its debut, or a super mobile phone or a smaller, cuter form of web accessing lap-top. Your scinece fiction guess is as good as mine.

ii) parties and politicians will all be creating easily accessible websites and super blogs with myriad features, many of them interactive. Maybe IT skills rather than televisual ones will be added to the must-have requirements for the aspiring politico.

iii) it might cool down the thrust to print scandal as looking at the pictures and reading Tracey Temple's diary onscreen, I'm guessing, would be less enticing than via the Street of Shame's traditional red-top scandal sheet; though eventually, if the taste for celebrity scandal continues, it's unlikely to make much difference.

iv) certainly political information will become more easily accessible; the key imponderable is whether voters, particularly young voters bother to do the accessing bit.

Comments:
My advice is to avoid making predictions; especially about the future......
 
In respect of my predictions Hughesey, you must be right.
 
Surely our economy is premised on such predictions; particularly with regard to the City.
 
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