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October 17, 2011



Not sure whether we aren't fetishing "newspapers" here. The industry model is stumbling, that's for sure. But if we define "newspapers" as a structuring window in on random chaos out there, a way we have of surviving a general universal lack of meaning, then such windows continue to exist: the curating work of social media feeds, blogging readers, news aggregators, even mobile apps ... all of these things are also arguably windows which put a frame on our world and help us believe we can understand it.

I'm inclined to think that too often we confuse "newspapers" and their function with their physicalness; just as "books" for some cease to exist once they become digital. If we're really looking to sustain the newspaper functionality in the future, I think we need to focus far more (as you seem to move to doing here) on "what we use them for" rather than "what they currently look like and can be described as".


Newspapers are in trouble? Really? I thought they were 'giving the punters what they want'...

Sophie Hobson

The decline of newspapers is a result of the increase of being able to get news elsewhere (Social networks, blogs etc…). People are now able to read about what they want, where they want and how they want.
Sophie Hobson, deputy editor, LondonlovesBusiness

Guido Fawkes

The limits of tittle-tattle have not yet been reached. Trust me.


Being just an ordinary pleb I don't know the ins and outs, but the argument put forwards by Nick Davies in "Flat earth news" is that the newspaper's were getting along ok back in the 80's and into the early 90's, and making a profit, but their owners demanded a higher profit, treating news as a commodity. Therefore they began making 'savings' and did everything they could to make the newspaper cheaper to produce, which naturally meant a decrease in quality. The end result being that Baumols cost disease was negated by dumping fact checking, independent research, relying on the same feeds as everyone else, etc etc.

THis meant that the decline in quality and desirability of most newspapers was well underway long before the internet, which has merely helped the decline along, rather than been wholly responsible for it.


Mil - news aggregators, bloggers etc - where are they mostly getting their source material from? Opinion (blogs) is cheap. Aggregating others's stories even cheaper. But they are currently built on traditional news media (primiarly newspapers). What happens next?

Jonathan Monroe

Why are people writing about newspapers as if readers are the customers and news is the product? Any fule kno that readers are the product and advertisers are the customers.

The only newspaper where the readers are customers is the Financial Times, which seems to be doing basically okay at the moment. This suggests that the problems with the newspaper business have more to do with the advertising business than the news business.

Mark - Plymouth Wedding Photography

I have to agree with Sophie Hobson's comment. As a 'consumer of news' I like to get the news at a time convenient to myself and at any location. I don't go out for a newspaper; I go online and read it on my phone, tablet or PC. The only time now that I read a newspaper is when I'm in the city and pick up a Metro on the tube as I can't always get an internet signal, other than that technology has taken over for me.

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