For more than two centuries, newspapers have been the indispensable source of public information and a check on the abuses of government and other powerful interests. And they still reach a vast and growing audience. Daily print circulation has dropped from a peak of 62 million two decades ago to around 49 million, and online readership has risen faster, to almost 75 million Americans and 3.7 billion page views in January, according to Nielsen Online.This is a remarkable decline in print and surge in online patronage. What is happening? One of the difficulties is that a lot of advertising is going online. Another is that 'entrepreneurial' newspaper bosses have laden newspapers with a stack of debt from their purchasing binges around 2005-07 when news media prices were at peak levels. The Fairfax family has problems in this regard in Australia and Murdoch has massive debt everywhere.
On the consumer side attitudes are changing too. I read the main articles in the NYT almost every night online. This has the effect of reducing my interest in the Australian media. It is also time-consuming - I have less time to read newspapers. My newspaper arrives around 6-00am and if I am up earlier I go online to see what they are saying. This represents my gradual shift away from the printed media - its a shift that I think is likely to be widespread.
And newspapers are expensive - the online reads are free - even if they are not provided you can get the title of the article you are ofter - this is normally available - you can Google that and dig up the article somewhere. (The exception to this is the AFR - it is expensive and I must buy it to gain the very selective information I want from it).
I have no objection to a pure online service but I don't see how the economics will pan out. Charging is difficult since there is so much free competition. The online providers deliver a lot of social value but I don't see how that will yield a buck for them.
Interesting futures here.....