Wizard of Aussie: Newspapers Will be ?Irrelevant? Within 12 Years

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Australian digital media consultant Ross Dawson plans on telling the nation’s Newspaper Publishers’ Association on Thursday that within a dozen years “newspapers as we know them will be irrelevant in Australia.”

But he also holds out hope that “the leading newspaper publishers of today may have transformed themselves to thrive in what will be a flourishing media industry.”

Dawson has a reputation as a futurist in Australia for his 2002 book “Living Networks,” which he says predicted explosive growth of microblogging and social media.

On his blog, Dawson gives a preview of what he will tell the NPA at its  “Future Forum” in Sydney.

The printed newspaper doesn’t get much, or any, play in his prepared remarks. Instead, he said that successors to the iPad will be the primary news interface in the future. Within ten years, the price for these news readers will drop to $10, and will often just be given away. “More sophisticated news readers will be foldable or rollable, gesture controlled and fully interactive,” he said.

Today’s digital dimes will indeed become dollars, Dawson says – but not every media company should expect to see them.

“Media revenues will soar but will be unevenly distributed,” he said. “We are shifting to a ‘media economy’ dominated by content and social connection. Yet established media organizations will need to reinvent themselves to participate in that growth.”

As for journalism, get used to crowd-sourcing, the futurist says.

“Substantial parts of investigative journalism, writing and news production will be ‘crowdsourced’ to hordes of amateurs overseen by professionals,” Dawson says.

But there will be work for professional journalists in Australia, he adds: “The reputation of individual journalists will drive audiences. Many journalists, most leading experts in their fields, will still be employed in Australia, with public reputation measures guiding audiences on how much to trust their work.”

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