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Not His Native Language, but He Read Phil Meyer

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, General, Information Commons, News of News

Rupert Murdoch told US editors yesterday that the “Internet is an emerging medium that is not my native language.”

As the big Fox told the editors that News Corp had slept too long during the Internet emergence, he quoted Phil Meyer:

One writer, Philip Meyer, has even suggested in his book The Vanishing Newspaper that looking at today’s declining newspaper readership — and continuing that line, the last reader recycles the last printed paper in 2040 — April, 2040, to be exact.

There are a number of reasons for our inertia in the face of this advance. First, newspapers as a medium for centuries enjoyed a virtual information monopoly — roughly from the birth of the printing press to the rise of radio. We never had a reason to second-guess what we were doing. Second, even after the advent of television, a slow but steady decline in readership was masked by population growth that kept circulations reasonably intact. Third, even after absolute circulations started to decline in the 1990s, profitability did not.

But those days are gone. The trends are against us. Fast search engines and targeted advertising as well as editorial, all increase the electronic attractions by a factor of 3 or 4. And at least four billion dollars a year is going into R&D to further improve this process.

So unless we awaken to these changes, which are quite different to those of 5 or 6 years ago, we will, as an industry, be relegated to the status of also-rans. But, properly done, they are an opportunity to actually improve our journalism and expand our reach.

Full speech at The News Corp site.

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