It’s long been axiomatic among people who care about the news business that print is on the way out. That digital opportunities are where resources and investment need to be steered, and that the anachronistic, fusty pages of alt-weeklies, newspapers, and magazines should not operate in competition with the digital side of their respective businesses. If anything, the era of President Trump has only accelerated the throbbing pulse of the news business that already kept us all — journos and readers alike — hopelessly tethered to the digital grid. Especially with the Trump administration’s proclivity to spawn consequential news headlines with breathtaking rapidity throughout the day.
And then came the coronavirus pandemic, wherein dashboards updated at a relentless pace throughout the day track COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, while push notifications and web updates barely keep up with each turn of events throughout a health crisis that’s killed more than 338,000 Americans as of the time of this writing. And this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what made 2020 the year that gave news junkies way more than a well-adjusted human should try to absorb. But this is also why we shouldn’t be surprised to see a high-profile industry figure like ex-New York Times NYT -1.2% CEO Mark Thompson speculate on the imminent demise of the Grey Lady’s print edition — he told CNBC back in August, for example, that he’d be “very surprised” if it’s still around in 20 years. The whole shebang is just moving too fast now for the printing press.
Indeed, the saga of print journalism over the last several years has been one of decay and rot; layoffs; budget cuts; shrinkage. And it’s easy to see where the pandemic has made all that worse. A moribund economy means fewer advertisers are spending money, which dries up print revenue, which means cutbacks, circulation declines, fewer employees, a greater reliance on wire copy — you get the idea. Proclaim your love of newspapers all you want. Some bells can’t be un-rung.
by Andy Meek, Forbes