Newspapers are dead.
Daily papers bringing news, the newspapers, are dead. They are not, as many think, on a verge of extinction. They are dead. They will not recover. The corpse is still lifelike, tricking people into false beliefs, but nevertheless, it is still a corpse.
There are two major elements that killed newspapers.
1. The nature of news
News, in general, cannot be copyrighted. When something happens, that fact cannot be intellectually protected. Facts and ideas can't be copyrighted. This means that absolutely anyone with a smartphone near an event can broadcast it into the world. When a car crash happens, you can be sure that there will be at least three people taking photos with mobile phones and uploading them to the entire world.
Combining this with the explosive growth of online connectivity and social networks you get a simple fact that as soon as something happens - most people who need to know about that event will know about it in the next few hours. Newspapers will bring that news tomorrow. Maybe.
Of course, there are places where ordinary folk cannot enter. There will always be material for journalists to exclusively cover and deliver to newspaper agencies. However this just means that in tomorrow newspapers only a fraction will be content that is exclusive to that medium. The rest was already digested by the world and regurgitated through comments and blogs. Why would anyone pay full price for just a fraction of useful data?
2. Newspaper agencies are selling … paper!
The agencies do not sell content. To the people they sell paper with some ink on it, and to the advertisers they sell blank space where the ads are splashed on. The fact that there are some words printed on that paper is just a clever trick that made you buy that bundle of paper.
Content of newspapers is there just as a marketing tool to make masses of people buy newspapers. This in turn satisfies advertiser's needs for reach and exposure, and makes money to agencies on the difference between the newspapers price and the production price.
The content of newspapers is essentially free.
Think about it. The price of a newspaper remains the same regardless of how much good or bad quality content is in them. Regardless of how many exclusive events are covered, regardless of what new celebrity journalist jumped agencies – the price of the newspapers is the same. The price is formed depending on the cost of print & paper, the cost of color and the cost of distribution.
The fact that agencies never had in their business plan an idea how to efficiently charge content, be it offline or online, is now coming around and hitting them in the face.
With the growth of online connectivity the agencies hit the brick wall. The content – the main lure – is suddenly available elsewhere. People do not want to buy piece of paper which brings yesterday's news, most of which they already saw through online networks.
Then and now
Newspaper agencies, in partnership with the professionals in the print industry, have perfected the art of industrial size origami making to efficiently and profitably deliver paper to the people.
Well, those days are now over.
Now is the time for them to partner up with the professionals in the web industry to perfect and make profitable online way of delivering news. All of the attempts so far are complete failures as publishing agencies think they can handle this internet thing-a-ma-jig by installing some doo-hickey methods on their own, without consulting the professionals.
If not …
…they will just disappear. But, in all reality, they will not be the first business branch to cease to exist. How many professional grade Grooms of the Stool do you know that still operate?