Monday, December 21, 2009

Newspapers and technology: Network effects | The Economist

Another timely reality check from The Economist 

The internet may kill newspapers; but it is not clear if that matters. For society, what matters is that people should have access to news, not that it should be delivered through any particular medium; and, for the consumer, the faster it travels, the better. The telegraph hastened the speed at which news was disseminated. So does the internet. Those in the news business use the new technology at every stage of newsgathering and distribution. A move to electronic distribution—through PCs, mobile phones and e-readers—has started. It seems likely only to accelerate.

The trouble is that nobody knows how to make money in the new environment. That raises questions about how much news will be gathered. But there is no sign of falling demand for news, and technology has cut the cost of collecting and distributing it, so the supply is likely to increase. The internet is shaking up the news business, as the telegraph did; in the same way, mankind will be better informed about his fellow humans than before. If paper editions die, then Bennett’s prediction that communications technology would be the death of newspapers will be belatedly proved right. But that is not the same as the death of news.

Newspapers and technology: Network effects | The Economist

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