[Keyword: journalism, online journalism]. I’ve only just caught up with Shane Richmond’s post on the future (or proposed death) of newspapers, following a seminar which suggested in the year 2012 “a typical media group will have a stable of publications: a daily premium news magazine, a free daily paper, a portfolio of websites, an internet television channel and a hyperlocal publishing network.”
Richmond disagrees with the magazine element because “people are less and less inclined to pay for bundles of content” and the RSS-fuelled Daily Me (Frighteningly, Negroponte’s idea is over a decade old) is a “model of media consumption that leads me to believe that media delivery to portable devices (phones, PDAs, electronic readers, flexible displays etc) will, at some stage in the future, supersede ink-on-paper media. I think so, others in the room disagreed.”
I’m of the mind to agree that portable devices and the My Google-style personalised news page will come to dominate news consumption, but that paper will continue to have an important role for the reason that RSS still requires you to select what interests you, whereas paper presents a browsing experience different to the ‘search-and-scan’ approach online. Research shows people are very task-oriented when they go online; a paper is an opportunity to come across stories you wouldn’t otherwise find; and in a local paper context, get an overall picture of what’s happening.
Now, two things may change this: first, social recommendation. When those whose judgement we trust begin to drive our news consumption in a mainstream way, the editor’s role becomes, if not redundant, at least transplanted. Second: screen resolution. When reading a story online or on a portable device becomes as comfortable as reading paper, we may drop the search-and-scan approach.
As for magazines, as I’ve written elsewhere, I think one future for them is as facilitators of virtual communities – a forward thinking magazine publisher will be investing in social recommendation software, forums, reader-editors and expert bloggers right now…