Newspapers Moving Online
By Bruce McKinney
The convergence of user friendly phones, computing, faster searches and always better graphics is turning the cell phone into a tool more useful than almost anyone imagined just a few years ago. New features are flowing into phones at the speed of light. One feature that is trying to bridge the widening gap between newspapers and the internet is offered to newspapers by Verve Wireless of Encinatis California. They provide software for newspapers to be viewed on smart phones. This is important because newspapers in print form are under siege. Their information is desired but their format is damned. Of the 95 million curent cell phone subscribers in the United States, 40 million currently use their phones to go on line and both numbers are increasing.
The importance of easy to use software that permits newspapers to be found, searched and read can not be overestimated. These days, readers under 30 overwhelmingly use the net to obtain their news. For them newspapers are more a part of history than of the present. People over 50 are still committed to newspapers but they too are going online as the technology becomes easier to comprehend and use.
As a consequence declining newspaper readership is reducing advertising efficiency even as costs per thousand copies are increasing. Across the nation and across the world an information revolution is underway and it is moving at the speed of light.
In the next few years, unless newspapers are able to carry their advertising model onto the net, we will see the wholesale destruction of a field that only a few years ago seemed blessed with eternal life. Because newspapers provide deeper news and analysis than television much more is at stake than who gets to advertise the furs and beer. The press, and media in its many iterations, is the fourth estate and we all rely on its "explicit capacity of advocacy and its implicit ability to frame political issues" [per Wikipedia]. Democracy requires it and if newspapers can not provide it then the fourth estate must be elaborated online. Let's hope newspapers have a fair opportunity to make their cases for continuing their role. They have done a very good job.
Here is a link to Verve's website. They offer one of the ways for newspapers to move their pages from paper to air: www.vervewireless.com.