Don’t discount the crossword puzzle in all this

Maybe the most interesting thing about this summary of responses to questions about the future of newspapers by a variety of newspaper and media experts is that they all urge newspapers to be very hesitant about reducing their number of print days per week, but they also concur that in ten years we will no longer have daily print newspapers. Common wisdom is that, at some point in the not too distant future, newspapers are going to have to leave their bulky physical form behind, but it seems that these experts think it is more important now to start reshaping the content and format than the frequency or delivery mechanism. It is also clear that the current model for newspaper success hinges on not alienating those who are still reading the newspaper more than attracting new readers.
This dovetails nicely with an article I read earlier in the week about proposed legislation to allow newspapers to go non-profit so long as they do not endorse political candidates, in order to help them survive. This legislation, it is acknowledged, is intended to help small community newspapers more than the larger newspapers that seem to be the focus of the discussion above. Allowing newspapers to choose to operate under the same non-profit umbrella as public broadcasting is intriguing – I suspect that the public broadcasting rules in part reflect the limited spectrum issues in radio and television and the merit of using some of them towards non-commercial purposes. It is intriguing to consider whether there has now been a flop, with digitization removing the spectrum issues for radio and television, but the increased presence of free, electronic sources of information putting a de facto cap on the amount of print media our economy can support.

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