How long will newspapers live?

There are things I loved to do when I was back home in India – read the Sunday paper at leisure – before Mom gave me late breakfast. And before Dad woke up and came downstairs. Well, I never read all the political mumbo jumbo, but did read the full page Sunday comics. And the picture puzzles and the jumbles. And when I was youg(er) at heart, I used to read the horoscopes too, hoping that something great will turn out of the tremendously traumatic one way crush I had on this girl. But this was way way back – before I went to college. Ok, not way way back, just way back.  I am not that old.

Enough with the prologue.

Today, I (along with millions of others) read the news online. I pick and click what I want to read. Computers and ever-increasing internet speeds are making everything – EVERYTHING appear online. Is this the end of the newspaper regime? It was thought once upon a time that 24×7 news channels on television are going to make newspapers go obsolete eventually. But in reality, it never even caused as much as a dent. But let us look at the current scenario. Everything on the internetis customized based on the individual – be it news content or even advertising. People look for news and relevant things based on keywords they use. Information is presented to the individual – he/she no longer has to look for it! With an increasingly increasing number of people depending on the internet for their daily dose of knowhow/what/why, isn’t it only a matter of time when newspapers will go obsolete?

I will argue with myself here, and point out that there is a certain pleasure associated with reading a newspaper with breakfast, compared to reading something on an electronic screen. It’s the same argument you can use for whether you want read a book from Kindle‘s electronic screen or by holding it in your hands with bookmarks and all? But that is ME talking. The current generation that is growing up is already accustomed to everything being present online itself. Will they ever experience what we do? May be till our generation (people born in the 80s and before) dies and fizzes out, newspapers are going to exist. Will newspapers end up in the museum after that? Just how long will newspapers live?

On a somewhat related note, here’s one of my favorite videos called “Did you know” (thanks to Kaushal for showing this to me!). It’s Karl Fisch’s famous presentation on the blinding speed of technological progress. This is version #3 of the project – “Shift happens“.  Here’s his blog. Thought inspiring. Turn up your speakers, for the video is great with the background score!

Shift happens

Parts of this post are inspired by a very rich conversation I had had with a distinguished Indian gentleman a few weeks back. We were generally talking about how fast electronics are taking over every activity in our lives. The topic moved to the pointless ‘breaking news’ offered by 24×7 news channels, and then moved to how newspapers might actually go obsolete. Now this gentleman is in his 60s, and I am in my 20s – and I want to believe that newspapers will survive and continue surviving. He, on the other hand, differs in opinion here. Also, he has seen a LOT more life than me, or even the average man his age. I do intend to do a piece on his truly inspiring accomplishments later sometime by interviewing him myself. Till then, he remains anonymous.