With the growth of internet on mobile phones and the modern globalised nature of broadband internet at the forefront of publisher’s minds, is the future of journalism an online one? This is a question Rupert Murdoch and other media typhoons are considering and accepting ever more.
The simple fact is that newspaper sales have reduced significantly in the last few years, as more people have access to 24 hour news on satellite television networks and on mobile phones. Local newspapers have been hit especially hard, with many, once popular, broadsheets no longer being published. The industry has hence set its eye on the online world and the potential of hybrid or maybe even online-only newspapers.
The emergence of iPhone’s and Blackberry’s on the mobile phone industry has also meant a potential shift in strategy for publishers. Applications, or “apps”, have become an extensive new industry, with the likes of the ‘times’ and the ‘financial times’ creating there own apps and making them free of charge (for a certain number of articles per month for example) for the reader. This is a controversial move and could lead to many people switching from their broadsheets to the online equivalent.
The newspaper industry has a wealth of history within the United Kingdom and many do not wish to lose it. However, the shift in consumer reading patterns could mean that many publishers create an online version and potentially move to online-only publishing’s. This is also true in the United States of America and around the world.
The development of electronic newspapers, will very soon be replacing hard-copy printed papers via electronic paper. In February 2006, the Flemish daily De Tijd of Antwerp announced plans to distribute an electronic-ink version of the paper to selected subscribers. This would have been the first such application of electronic ink to newspaper publishing.
It would be difficult to find a daily newspaper in the UK or United States, in fact in the world, in the 21st century, that does not have or share a website. Very few newspapers will claim to have made much or any money from their websites, which are mostly free to all viewers. Declining profit margins and declining circulation in daily newspapers have forced executives to consider new methods of obtaining revenue from websites, without charging for subscription.
Many analysts insist that ‘free is the future’, and only those media organisations which can adapt and innovate to meet that reality with new business models will survive. Advertising will still be the main source of income in the digital world, with sites such as Facebook attracting viable sums on the back of 200 million users (and growing). But content will be free at the point of access.