Arnold Kling  

News Without Paper

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Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes,


What would a new-era newspaper look like?

First, I think I'd skip the "paper" part. I've visited a lot of newspaper offices, and many of them proudly display the printing presses that produce their product, just as older newsmen often glory in the title of "ink-stained wretch." But their product isn't paper (in fact, for those of us who recycle, the paper is a drawback, not a plus, at least until it's time to pack things for a move). Their product is information. Paper is just an increasingly obsolete delivery platform. It's expensive, and on the way out. Get rid of it, or start a new "paper" without it.


From an economic perspective, this is not as simple as it sounds. The printing press is what makes newspapers large, centralized organizations. If you get rid of the printing press, then what does an individual reporter get out of affiliating with a newspaper?

For more on the economic plight of newspapers, see Holman Jenkins.


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Brian writes:

Interesting thoughts! Some new technology has just emerged for cheap, printable electronics. I have some more info on this and links back to your post here: http://thinkingonthemargin.blogspot.com/2006/03/printing-electronics-and-end-of-print.html

Robert Schwartz writes:

"If you get rid of the printing press, then what does an individual reporter get out of affiliating with a newspaper?"

Salary, health insurance, and maybe dental?

Brad writes:

The economic reason behind a physical paper is not to create a "large, centralized organization" but to get what advertisers call reach. Shut down the physical paper and you are looking at 50-80% drop in reach. In addition, online ad rates for graphic ads are roughly 1/3rd those of the traditional newspaper. Shutting down the physical paper would destroy these businesses for the simple reason that most people still read the physical paper.

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