Requiem for Newspapers | Hello Huffington Post!


There is a certain amount of gratification knowing that I accurately predicted the death of print. But also sadness. I love newspapers, and newspapers are dying.

The casualties in recent months include the Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and several dailies in Michigan. In some cases, as in Seattle, there were two daily papers, so one will still be left. But in other cases, a city’s sole newspaper is biting the dust. At least 120 newspapers have folded since January 2008, thanks to the competition of the Internet (both audience and advertising dollars) and the recession.

I first had a glimmering about 1965 and said to my mother that it seemed like a newspaper was wasteful—all that work to print and distribute, only to be quickly discarded. I imagined a system whereby text would be transported to a medium in the home. My mother was skeptical, but to me it seemed inevitable.

In 1994 I began using Mosaic, the first graphical web browser. And I thought, “This is it. This is going to be the technology that replaces paper.” Mind you, this was when there was little content on the web, and everything was primitive by today’s standards. No Amazon, no Microsoft Internet Explorer, no Google. Just a few thousand web pages put up by academics and hobbyists.

My first column about the Internet in December 1994 was titled, “Goodbye Print, Hello Mosaic.” I imagined this new phenomenon being a major force. And now, a few billion web pages later, the tide has turned. Print is fast dying.

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