Some interesting future-oriented comments followed yesterday’s post about Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Publisher Walter Hussman’s note to his staff on the occasion of a Seattle newspaper converting to online-only publication. Hussman said he was committed to preservation of the printed newspaper.
My own thinking — and I don’t like it much — is that paper is doomed. At some point. I sent Hussman (pictured in Arkansas Business photo) a question to follow up and he kindly responded:
Q: Don”t you think, inevitably, maybe not in my lifetime or the next, but inevitably, electronic distribution has to prevail? When reading devices become cheap, convenient and ubiquitous (not to mention instantly updatable), it seems to me that the lure of giving up the cost of paper, ink, printing and distribution will make too much economic sense to retain the old model.
Care to future gaze?
A: I think on line access to information will become more widespread as it becomes easier to use and more interactive. But I think there will always be a market for printed newspapers. The audience may become smaller, but if so I think it will be well educated and those concerned and committed to their communities. If so, this will be an attractive audience for advertisers. But for now, newspapers are still the most cost effective mass medium for advertisers in most local markets.
Encyclopedia of Arkansas, save this exchange for 22nd century scholars.