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The future of newspapers

There is an intriguing development in the media industry…

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is launching an iPad only newspaper called Daily. It was initially supposed to be launched in January in the presence of Steve Jobs of Apple, but has been postponed as Steve Jobs is on medical leave. The product will be launched later in the year presumably along with the iPad 2.   Some industry commentators see this model as a prototype for new way of selling newspapers, which is likely to be emulated by other tablet computers in the future. Above all else, the move is going to be watched with heightened curiosity by the newspaper industry.

It is a fact that the readership of newspapers is declining sharply as readers are increasingly moving on to the internet. The phenomenon, which is widespread in all countries, has severely affected many regional newspapers in different countries particularly in the United States.  Rupert Murdoch has been advocating the building of pay walls around news sites (The Times started charging readers online last year).

Recently Eric Schimidt, CEO of Google pointed out in a recent interview with The Guardian in London that the news reading experience will undergo huge changes in the next few years. It will offer a new experience to the readers with rich text, colour, video and the ability to go very deeply into the story. Readers will be presented with what is latest rather than reading what we already know. In other terms, news will become more personalised and will be supported by sophisticated multi-media centric advertising products.

Google feels since the internet is based on the concept of free information, pay walls shouldn’t be enforced.  I am inclined to agree with Google’s argument, and feel that as the digital era takes its grip, the readership of newspapers will pick up. There will be a greater source of revenue through advertising with increased readership. It will therefore make sense to have both free and subscription models available.  In fact, several studies have shown that websites that offer free news don’t want to move to a pay model as the earnings through advertising is good enough. And, as news becomes more customised, people are likely to read the sections that they are interested in, which in turn will widen the scope of targeted advertising.

The iPad newspaper is going to be the first newspaper of its kind in this category. Apple should welcome it but as a company known for its innovation it shouldn’t endorse it.


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