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Newspapers Dead Within Five Years, USC Predicts

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Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 12:46 PM

click to enlarge CRISTIAN HERNANDEZ
  • Cristian Hernandez
As if the ink-stained wretches of the newspaper world need anymore bad news, the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future says the print product some of you like to pick up of your driveway every morning will go the way of the dinosaur within five years.

A Digital Future report summarizing 10 years of the Center's studies asks, "Is America at a Digital Turning Point?" and the answer seems to be yes.

On the question of newspapers, Center director Jeffrey I. Cole says:

... We believe that the only print newspapers that will survive will be at the extremes of the medium - the largest and the smallest. ... The impending death of the American print newspaper continues to raise many questions. Will media organizations survive and thrive when they move exclusively to online availability? How will the changing delivery of content affect the quality and depth of journalism?

USC concludes: "Most print newspapers will be gone in five years."

Good news for the Los Angeles Times, though (maybe):

The Center says "only four major daily newspapers" would survive, naming The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

We think that the L.A. Times should be considered among those papers that will survive. There's no reason why the paper shouldn't thrive as well as, say, the Washington Post, and for decades it was mentioned as being among the "big four" papers presenting the best journalism in the land (next to The New York Times, the Post and the Journal).

Good news for LA Weekly too. Possibly. USC:

At the other extreme, local weekly newspapers may still survive.

Online, however, seems to be the place to be. The Times claims a "reach" of 17 million, which far outstrips its daily print circulation of 723,181 572,998. Unfortunately the paper is rumored to be pondering a pay-wall scheme that could charge readers for online content and shed some of that "reach."

Bad move if you ask us.

On the other hand, the idea of getting yesterday's news via a printout in the morning has felt antiquated to us for 10 years now.

The Sunday paper -- now that's something worth holding on to.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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