1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Wired 2007 Predictions: Major paper will go Web-only

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Shifty Squid, Dec 29, 2006.

  1. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    I was just looking at Wired.com's technology predictions for 2007 (http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,72370-0.html?tw=wn_culture_games_1) and ran across this bit ...

    - Print to Web
    A major newspaper gives up printing on paper to publish exclusively online.

    I know we've talked about this on here before, but I'm curious what people think are the chances this happens this year. My guess is we're still several years away from a major newspaper going Web-only, as I don't think any publishers are confident enough yet in Internet advertising. It's also a pretty tough leap to make. Once you go to Web-only, can you feasibly go back? It seems like there would be a good number of changes to infrastructure that might be tough to undo once they were set into motion. If it didn't work as well as you expected, your paper might be ripe for the taking if somebody else wanted to swoop into the area and begin tossing newsprint on doorsteps again.

    So the question isn't, "Will we get there?" because I think we all would agree that someday, somebody fairly prominent will try this. But the question, in the immortal words of Ice Cube, is "Are we there yet?" I really don't think so, but I'm curious what everybody else thinks.
  2. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Mine won't because they're just now completing a $150 million or so printing facility with the competitor/JOA partner.
  3. tyler durden 71351

    tyler durden 71351 Active Member

    Maybe it could happen in 2007, if one of the Seattle papers does it. And I don't know enough about their JOA and that sort of stuff to know how likely that is. Someone will probably go Web only by 2010.
    By the way, there was something on Romenesko a couple of weeks ago...some alt-weekly guy patting himself on the back for predicting five years ago that newspapers would be dead by 2006. This industry is in bad shape, but it isn't dead. OK, maybe we're in ICU...
  4. It won't happen for at least a few years because advertising revenue in print is still way ahead of web revenue. The gap is closing, but at my shop - which has a pretty good web site - the ratio is still something like 5-1.
  5. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I don't think it will happen this year, and barring unforeseen problems or new technology, it won't happen in the next 10 or 20 years.
    Some college and high school papers have killed their print editions, but they don't have to worry about making money or fulfilling union contracts or anything else a paper has to worry about.
    It makes a certain economic sense to scrap home delivery and the printing presses, since keeping those things going is expensive. But too much has been invested just to throw out all those presses and trucks.
    A struggling paper, in a high tech area, could possibly do it - I'm thinking SF Examiner - but only as a last result before shutting down.
    Profit margins remain extremely high for papers, McClatchy is checking in at 26 percent and the other big media players like the Washington Post have diversified to the point that the Post itself isn't driving the company, Kaplan is.
  6. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    That would be tough. You'd have to either spend a couple years and tens of millions of dollars building a printing plant, or you'd have to have someone print it for you, which would mean very early deadlines.

    I don't think a major paper will go Web-only in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. We'd all do it if we could because newsprint is our second-highest cost after labor. But we can't make as much advertising money as we do in print, and circulation revenue, while dwarfed by advertising revenue, is not completely insignificant.
  7. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    Too many obstacles, mainly unions. Will any union really allow a major newspaper to shut down all printing operations? Lost jobs in the pressroom, mailroom, not to mention carriers. Not gonna happen until they break up the unions. Of course, why stop there? Break up the editorial unions, too. Then they don't have to worry about reduced print ad revenue covering salaries. They'll shave more off the bone of the operation until the ratio is what they need to keep the 20-30 percent profit margin.

    On the other hand, I saw a prediction (and I don't remember where) that day-to-day news would be online and papers would put out a "Sunday magazine/tabloid" with ads, coupons, comics, etc.
  8. taz

    taz Member

    This whole print-to-web idea is going to be a gradual process, but we're starting to see it already.

    Starting with such things as entertainment listings (events, restaurants, clubs, etc.), papers are going to have to make better use of their web sites and push content that just isn't going to be as relevant in a shrinking news hole. Especially if the content is available through a functional database that delivers searchable, sortable results as opposed to a straight list in print.

    IMO, papers will turn more to niche products that will be tied to a very strong web presence, as a way to generate revenue. Our standard A-Metro-Business-Sports sections will continue to shrink, to the point where I can see small-to-mid size papers going hyperlocal and turning a lot of their national/international news into digest items (will anyone really miss that 30'' feature on two African elephants that must be relocated, as my paper ran inside its A-section???)

    I don't look at the print-to-web thought as a death knell, but rather a smart way for papers to start utilizing the web as a viable way to deliver content in a way that people actually want it.
  9. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    which to a publisher is far more lucrative pumping out advertising flyers, especially with the full-color options, than money-losing newsprint.
    Don't be fooled by that kind of capital investment
  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Most newspapers don't print those. They are printed elsewhere, delivered to the newspaper's mailroom and then inserted into the paper. In fact, in nearly 31 years in the business, I've never worked anywhere that printed those advertising inserts.
  11. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

  12. OK. as a dead-tree guy, let me ask a question. Rather than "going all web," why wouldn;t some venture zillionnaire in a one-newspaper town just START a web-only product? The rollout pub alone would be worth a bonanza, I'd think.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page