In 1979, British New Wave group The Buggles declared that music videos killed the radio star. Now a blogger has written that twitter shall kill newspapers. Then what will kill Twitter Perhaps Charles Darwin would shed light on the answer. He knew that everything is destined to be under the influence of evolution.
Today, in an era of new media patronized by cutting-edge information technologies, we can see that a lot of newspapers and magazines are disappearing as clearly as we can see how each falls down every day. It is rather fortunate, we can tell, that they are not like the dinosaurs that were abruptly gone from natural history one night following the heat and dust of a grand crash.
Statistics show how serious it is with the fate of newspapers and magazines. During the first half of 2009, as many as 105 newspapers across the US went bankrupt with a 30 percent cut-off in advertising revenue and 10 thousand jobs gone. Those numbers forced 23 leading papers out of 25 to cut the volume of their circulations.
The Sun-Times Media Group, for example, became fossilized, closing its 12 local papers. The Journal Register Company joined the endangered list by stopping the printing of 34 papers. Gatehouse Media and Gannett circulating USA Today had no choice but to follow the others. It is not strange that S&P and Moody's lowered Gannett's credit rating all the way down to almost a junk bond. In this chaos, it is no longer unfamiliar to hear that Business Week is on sale for just one dollar.
More threats are tangible here and there. Twitter and Google are holding tight to the necks of the papers with their "now" marketing. News that is delivered tomorrow is not news for consumers who are used to Twitter and Google. They want to read news in real time, as it happens. That means as long as newspapers rely on "tomorrow" media, they will not escape from the whips of Twitter and Google. In today's information market, news being delivered "now" is attractive to subscribers. How painful it is to hear Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, say that traditional media will disappear in 10 years. He pointed out that newspapers can't survive in the tsunami of new media equipped with new platforms combined with faster and more "now" services.
What's important is whether or not papers have the assets to meet the challenges. The Wall Street Journal is struggling to become a messiah, leading its brothers to the land of milk and honey. The WSJ recently declared that it will collect money from readers who subscribe to mobile news through smart phones like the iPhone and Blackberry. Its price strategy is categorized by three services. First, subscribers who take mobile news service only should pay two dollars for two weeks. Second, those who get newspapers and online news in a bundle can get them for free. Third, people who choose newspapers or online services will be charged one dollar.
While there is an indication that some newspapers should follow the WSJ, Google has suggested a win-win strategy to NAA, an organization for newspapers across the US. The strategy is that Google is willing to share the subscription fee with newspapers whose readers can log on from a certain place and be linked with all sites, as long as subscribers pay a fee through Google's electronic payment system. Google showed its new application called Fast Flip. You can thumb through pages on a monitor like you do with real books.
To be sure, it is an uncertain era for traditional newspapers. They look like trees that lose their green leaves to disease as time goes by. Is it too late for the papers that were once loved by our fathers and grandfathers, who brought a copy to read on the toilet or at the café