Wired’s predictions for 2007 read more like a nerd’s wish list (BitTorrent on TiVo, HD-DVD wins, no more dads, life on Mars, etc.) than an attempt at informed sooth-saying, but still, I had to comment on this one:
Print to Web
A major newspaper gives up printing on paper to publish exclusively online.
Ain’t happening. There’s still too much revenue tied up in print and not enough online. A major newspaper — I’m taking this to mean a major metro — couldn’t support it’s current news operation with a digital-only strategy. Not now. Not yet. Not for a couple to a few years. The only way I see a big city paper shutting down its presses is if it’s a weak sister in a JOA and is largely subsidized by its corporate parent as an online-only experiment (something I’ve long thought Scripps should do with the Cincinnati Post (I believe that JOA was slated to end, but I’m not sure of the current status)).
Here’s when newspapers will stop rolling presses: When digital delivery has become so much more efficient that the cost savings will entice publishers to essentially force subscribers to give up print. Revenue will have to get better of course, but what I’m saying is that the killer of print won’t be so much lost revenue or increased revenue opportunity, but cost savings — eliminate the press, the press men, the trucks, the drivers, the newsracks … all of those polluting, environmentally wasteful inefficiencies of print delivery. Some day, that will very much tempt publishers. But we’re still years away from that … say two to five years. But when mobile devices get better, or digital ink arrives, or households become widely wired at 10mb, then publishers might have the efficiencies needed to kill print.