Technology fostered the growth of newspapers, and now, it has spawned the era of e-newspapers

Evolving technology and changing habits are making things tougher for newspapers, claims a tech fan.

BC: What do you think the future will be like?

AD: What happened? Read something terrible in the newspapers today?

BC: No, I read something terrible about the newspapers today.

AD: What do you mean?

BC: Well, newspapers formally began their journey with printed editions in the late 1600s. Three hundred years later, they extended their reach to the online medium. Soon, we began to have digital versions of newspapers. And now, we’ve reached a point where online newspapers have more takers.

AD: That's because they’re more convenient and certainly more updated.

BC: As a result, the print version began to vanish and web-only newspapers began to thrive. And now, we hear websites buying over newspapers — a far cry from the days when newspapers powered news portals to extend their presence online.

AD: Ok, now I get it... You're obviously upset by Jeff Bezos buying over Washington Post.

BC: But Bezos is not the first tech celebrity to buy a newspaper — Chris Hughes, the co-founder of Facebook bought The New Republic, but…

AD: What are you trying to say?

BC: Technology played a crucial role in ruining the newspaper industry — and now you claim it is rushing to the aid of a struggling newspaper.

AD: Look at it this way — if Bezos plans to marry tradition and technology, we could then have ‘The Washington E-Post’, a futuristic e-paper that could look like something straight out of a Harry Potter book or a Spielberg movie.

BC: I don't think the value of a newspaper can be expressed enough to this generation. When I was working, I remember starting the day with the front pages, reserving the sports and entertainment sections for the train ride to my client's place, and finally solving the crossword, word jumble and other puzzles on my way back from work. By the end of the day, I would have pored through every section of the paper...

AD: Look, it's about business and profits, not about emotions and nostalgia... Besides, who has the time for that today?

BC: Today’s generation has all the time in the world for forwards, for posting status messages about burnt toast and for checking their status updates a hundred times a day, but then, where's the time to read a newspaper?

AD: But they’re getting their news feed by the minute on their mobiles — accept the fact that newspapers are losing out to their smarter e-versions…

BC: How can newspapers compete with an adversary that offers services free of cost? In fact, it is a double whammy because with more people preferring digital newspapers worldwide, the traditional print media is not only losing its readership, but also its advertising revenue — with readership dropping, advertisers are also moving away towards the electronic media.

AD: How can you blame them for moving towards where the eyeballs are? Besides, this is nothing new. Radio was challenged by TV, which is being challenged by the internet. It's all about reinventing yourself and keeping pace with the times...

BC: What rankles the industry is the fact that people can go straight to Google News and get all the news they want, free of cost. It's like a free online library.

AD: Google is actually directing readers to different newspaper sites — according to statistics, the site facilitates around six billion hits to various newspaper sites.

BC: But the rate at which things are going, Google might be playing a much bigger role than we can ever imagine.

AD: How?

BC: All along, we used Google to search for news and information. Now, we might have to use it to locate the whereabouts of the newspapers that are vanishing from the scene.

sureshl.india@gmail.com

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