By: Heidi Kulicke
Q: What do you anticipate the newspaper industry to look like in 10 years, and how can newspapers prepare for continued change?
Jennifer Holton, 21, senior in communications at John Carroll University in Ohio
Holton graduates in May and hopes to write for a magazine or become a television anchor. She has worked with ABC affiliate WEWS-TV5 and was the first social media intern for Cleveland Magazine. She is the managing editor of her college newspaper, The Carroll News.
A: The story of the newspaper industry is like a novel with an unwritten ending. However, many people — whether they’re in the industry or not — claim the story will soon come to a devastating end. I beg to differ. Many may equate a decade with the newspaper industry apocalypse, but I believe the industry will be afloat in 10 years, having made drastic changes.
A decade from now, newspapers will have adapted to social media and use it to their advantage. It’s not likely that social media and online news pages will ever kill newspapers, because society needs a tangible constant for providing news, and that’s a printed publication. The Internet is changing so often that it could never offer that.
It’s inevitable that all news content available online will cost a pretty penny within the next 10 years, no longer giving the Internet the upper hand in cost-effectiveness for the consumer. Newspapers will be charging for subscription services on all tablets to gain tech-savvy subscribers. Local newspapers will continue to struggle the most, yet big-name newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times will survive easily. Newspapers can prepare themselves for a media landscape that is changing at a faster rate than ever by constantly staying on top of the changes. Newspapers must create more appealing layouts to keep readers interested in each issue.
Most importantly, the industry will have to learn how to use social media outlets to complement their publications, so that online content is not simply regurgitated articles from the printed newspaper. There is no end in sight for social media, and newspapers jumping on that bandwagon will keep them on the road to stability.
John Mura, 57, multimedia manager, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY).
Mura is an award-winning reporter and senior editor and now oversees Courier-Journal.com. He has worked for Times-Mirror Co. and Gannett, and is incoming president of Kentucky Press Association.
A: A decade from now, the newspaper industry will certainly reach fewer subscribers with its print product, but it will almost certainly have figured out how to earn substantial profits from digital. The concept of “newspaper of record” will give way to reporting beats tied to unique, saleable content and discerned community needs. The “one size fits all” online newspaper will evolve to niche digital products that will reach smaller but highly targeted audiences on multiple platforms.
I can see reporters continuing to find and break stories, but also, through the interaction afforded by digital, become “thought leaders” in areas of interest that are less defined by geography and more by commonality. These reporters will write fewer traditional stories but will increasingly lead digital communities in subjects in which they’ve developed an expertise, using conversation, analysis, and digital community interaction.
So how can newspapers prepare to grow in an environment of constant change? Perhaps by first becoming better at managing change. By identifying what it is that makes each an essential purchase by our customers and by adapting that to new markets and platforms. By identifying and training the next generation of highly skilled journalists to do jobs that may not even exist yet. By having a well-thought-out plan of where the organization is headed and communicating this effectively. By putting many more resources into innovation and by investing dollars in the technology that can show customers that “old media” is becoming new again.