A great, thought-provoking article by Roy Greenslade in the Evening Standard this week. So perilous are the paper’s finances, he argues, that the Indy should make a virtue of necessity – and continue its pioneering tradition – by being the first national newspaper to go completely online.
I think there is a lot to this. All papers are working hard to deliver a worthwhile online version – some more successfully than others. The current mantra is multi-platform journalism, with the FT, Times and Telegraph arguably at the vanguard. (For example, we’re presently working with the new online video unit created to supply high grade content to both timesonline.co.uk and sky.com.)
Greenslade’s vision goes beyond this and recognises that people’s consumption of news is changing. A lot of 18 -24 year-olds no longer buy papers at all, and many more of us now turn first to the web for our news fix. It won’t be for everyone, which is why local newsagents will be kept busy dishing out newspapers for many generations to come. However, the growing share of the population that is tech-savvy and expects the news to come to them are a real market for this.
To really unlock this potential we need a good hardware complement. Reading the papers is something that fits well with a train journey and not so well once you’re at your desk. I think that the key will be Amazon’s reportedly fantastic Kindle e-reader and its successors. Currently available only in the US, the Kindle offers a similar ‘electronic ink’ screen to Sony’s stylish Reader eBook rival, which makes it much kinder to the eye than a regular computer screen. BUT, in addition, Kindle can update itself wirelessly with the latest news and content that you subscribe to. So, while you’re fast asleep in bed your Kindle can be downloading that morning’s newspapers, so that you have it all at your fingertips when you boot up on the 8.21 train.
Now, that’s exciting stuff. An iPod? – that’s so 2006!