Posted tagged ‘online newspapers’

The end of newsprint?

June 11, 2012

Today marked a significant watershed in my life. This morning, as I do most mornings, I walked to the nearby newsagent. I wanted to buy a baguette for my breakfast, and copies of the two newspapers that I read every day. I bought the baguette. But I bought no newspaper. As I stood looking at the piles of papers, I suddenly asked myself why I was bothering, as I have apps on my iPad that allow me to read both the papers in question in their precise printed form. And so I went home and read the newspapers on the iPad. And I have to admit that it is possible, just possible, that I will not buy a hard copy newspaper ever again.

Of course we already know that newspapers, particularly those that are not coming to grips with the internet age, are dying. A number of them have already folded, and others are soldiering on, but precariously. Others are trying to save themselves by offering access to their websites in return for a payment.

Until recently I didn’t think that web-based newspapers were the future of news reporting. No matter how powerful the computer or how chic the laptop, it just wasn’t how one would read the news over breakfast. So I thought that the more astute newspapers would survive and would be able to continue to print hard copy. Now, with the phenomenal growth of the iPad and other tablet computers, this may be changing. I actually now find it easier to manipulate the newspaper with my fingers than to mess around with the paper pages. And I am not altogether alone in this.

I have a subscription to an iPad-based newspaper subscription service that, for less than £1 a day, lets me download all my normal newspapers in the exact print format. How can I lose?

And yet, I wonder what the future holds for news reporting. First, will there be a viable business model that sustains a network of reporters and correspondents for a coherent news organisation, not just services that take copy from others? Will advertisers support the kind of model I am now using? Will the anarchy of the internet, and the fact that anybody can set up a news site, destroy the reliability of news reporting? Will the tabloid world change, or maybe even disappear?

An uncertain world lies ahead.

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Newspapers online

February 4, 2009

As far as I can recall, the first newspaper I ever read online was the Irish Times, and this was some time in the mid-1990s. At the time I was living and working in the United Kingdom, and having instant access to the news from Ireland was very attractive. By today’s standards the whole thing was quite basic, and I believe I am right in my recollection that what you could read was not the whole paper, but just selections from it. But it was a kind of revolution nonetheless.

Today I happened to come across the youtube item – which you can see here – that shows a much older attempt to take a newspaper to remote readers on their computer screens, in 1981. I confess that at the time I wouldn’t have had any idea what ‘online’ even meant, much less have direct experience of it. And if you see the video clip, with the really old phone modem (which I do recall seeing in someone else’s office), you might wonder whether the effort (and cost, as is explained) would have been worth it.

For me, the availability of online newspapers has never seemed a substitute for the paper version: putting my laptop on the breakfast table so that I can read the paper doesn’t seem a good idea. But it is nevertheless extremely valuable. Today I was able to read not just the Irish papers (the Irish Times and the Irish Independent), but also the New York Times and the Frankfurter Rundschau. So I am glad that this facility exists, and hope that I shall always be able to read my primary newspapers on paper, and a wide selection from around the world online.