Which newspaper will drop its print edition first?

Wired News prediction for 2007: “A major newspaper gives up printing on paper to publish exclusively online.

Howard Owens doesn’t think so: “Ain’t happening. There’s still too much revenue tied up in print and not enough online. A major newspaper — I’m taking this to mean a major metro — couldn’t support it’s current news operation with a digital-only strategy. Not now. Not yet. Not for a couple to a few years.

Lucas Grindley follows the money: “If a newspaper stops printing, about two-thirds of its operating expenses are thrown out the window. No more newsprint. No more carriers. No more circulation department, sales kiosks and all that.

Bryan Murley says college papers can do it under certain circumstances:

  • A small advertising base
  • A majority of funding from student fees
  • A small staff
  • A visionary editor
  • A forward-thinking adviser
  • A fully wired campus

Calling the Spartan Daily

Steve Greene was right when he recommended the Daily become a weekly print paper with a continuous online news site, a la the [X]Press at San Francisco State.

Cue rant: I’m not going into the painful details about how much talking-head event coverage gets into the Daily, or how certain stories (and feature photos) are repeated each and every semester (ballroom dancing, anyone?), or how much superfluous wire copy gets into print during busy points in the school year, but seriously, students are being cheated out of the experience of working in a continuous news environment because the faculty sees the print product as the end-all be-all of newspapering. Note to my peers: As reporters, you will be expected to get stories done before 5pm on occasion, and they will be posted online immediately. That’s the real world of newspapers today. It’s nice that the Daily has trained a steady string of page designers, but it could just as easily turn out an annual crop of multimedia producers. Wouldn’t that be a bit of a modernization? End rant.

How much of the same can be said of your major metro daily? Or your small-to-medium town broadsheet replete with wire copy on international events and faraway football games?

How many broadsheets will be willing to start the process of change by re-aligning as tabloid-size papers with less cable news and Internet overlap of content?

We’ll see more announcements of this sort of thing in 2007.  I wish that college newspapers would lead adoption instead of following five years behind trends, but that might still be a pretty hefty wish.

Good luck to all daily print publications this year — they’re going to need it.

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