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Cory Doctorow Calls Death To Music, Movies, Print 336

An anonymous reader writes "Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow depicts an unfortunate near-future for a handful of media industries being transformed or killed by the Internet. Predicting a large-scale transformation of the music, movie, book, and newspaper industry, Doctorow says, 'The Internet chews up media and spits them out again. Sometimes they get more robust. Sometimes they get more profitable. Sometimes they die.' While the Internet has the potential to help the dying book industry, for example, Doctorow predicts the 'imminent collapse' of the American newspaper industry because advertisers are uninterested in spending money on the remaining offline readership, such as senior citizens, who prove less valuable."
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Cory Doctorow Calls Death To Music, Movies, Print

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  • by OneSmartFellow ( 716217 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @06:39PM (#26952011)
    There is a place for a whole multitude of media. Television news didn't eliminate the newspaper, and neither will the internet. Change it, of course, eliminate, no way !
    • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:10PM (#26952277)

      Television news didn't eliminate the newspaper

      That's because ads in television are directed to the mass market, while newspapers carry classified ads. With the internet full of advertisements which are easier to search and read than newspaper classified ads, there's that much less motivation to buy printed papers.

    • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:15PM (#26952325)
      television did eliminate evening edition newspapers. just like radio eliminated the "extra,extra read all about it" extra editions. in my opinion, this is the future of newspapers: 1. Free print editions...less pages and really just an advertisement "teaser" for the online version. 2. Admission of liberal/etc. editorial viewpoints and publish to that niche or demographic. forget about being objective or even lying about it. 3. Huge reduction in staffing. elimination of sports/weather/entertainment sections. yes, they will "cover" them, but only as "contract" services such as ESPN/TWC/TMZ.
      • by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:04PM (#26952679) Journal

        1. Free print editions...less pages and really just an advertisement "teaser" for the online version.

        That's an interesting turnabout. I used to mostly see online newspapers & magazines that were advertisement teasers for the printed version. And I suspect the printed version isn't afraid to put a full page advertisement on, which does allow some continuity of revenue even though the classifieds ink is less.

        A trend in our neck of the woods (Victoria, Australia) is for a thriving community newspaper industry. The adverts are tied to very local businesses - e.g. your local tyre store, not national or international brands. This sense of connectedness with folks within driving distance means a closely tied advertising demographic. The trend for these newspapers is to get thicker, not thinner, and they're distributed free. So it appears for close community work, printed newspapers are still a viable concern.

    • by Goldberg's Pants ( 139800 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:40PM (#26952511) Journal

      It's utter nonsense. Doctrow is a self important blowhard who, for reasons unknown, people think is actually relevant.

      I watched a lecture from David Simon (creator of "The Wire", former journalist etc...) on this very subject, and his was the exact opposite opinion. That the Internet can't ever replace newspapers and proper reporting. Smaller newspapers will fold (no pun intended) but larger ones will always exist. I remember one comment was "How many bloggers are embedded in Falujah?"

      It's a very good lecture, but I'd recommend avoiding it if you've not seen at least the first four seasons of "The Wire" due to potential spoilers, but really "The Wire" is the jumping off point for the lecture, not the subject.

      I believe this is it. USC Lecture []

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:57PM (#26952629) Journal
        Trouble is, the internet doesn't have to be a good replacement in order to end up replacing newspapers. If the Times could only afford to embed reporters in dusty warzones because of classified ad revenue, and their classifieds department has been gutted, well, I guess there won't be any more reporters out there, will there?

        That is my concern. I hope that the virtues of newspapers will carry through; but it is far from assured. Things like foreign and political reporting, and stuff that pisses off possible advertisers, are socially vital; but they are cost centers in the strictly financial sense. They could, fairly easily, end up just being eliminated, without replacement.
        • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:12PM (#26952757) Journal
          Trouble is, the internet doesn't have to be a good replacement in order to end up replacing newspapers. If the Times could only afford to embed reporters in dusty warzones because of classified ad revenue, and their classifieds department has been gutted, well, I guess there won't be any more reporters out there, will there?

          That is my concern. I hope that the virtues of newspapers will carry through; but it is far from assured. Things like foreign and political reporting, and stuff that pisses off possible advertisers, are socially vital; but they are cost centers in the strictly financial sense. They could, fairly easily, end up just being eliminated, without replacement.

          The time when privately run, for profit news actually served a socially noble purpose, if they ever did exist, are long gone.

          If you want such things to exist, they need to be socialized, and they need to be transparent, and accountable, and dedicated exclusively to a higher social purpose. Even then it's hard to prevent them being corrupted.

          Media companies are propaganda machines. They're staffed by the people who brought you the cold war. They're nothing but groups of evil manipulators, and it's good that they're going to die.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            If you want such things to exist, they need to be socialized... Media companies are propaganda machines.

            I'm amazed you can say such things with a straight face. However bad private media companies may be, as propagandists they pale in comparison to governments []. And the worst instances of "private" propaganda just happen to align with the interests of the governments under which those companies operate, by some strange coincidence.

            And you wish to socialize them further?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

          Actually I think this is an area where the Internet can evolve and help. I'm sure that there are plenty of local reporters and journalism students in just about any place on the planet that would be happy to snap some pics and tell their stories when breaking news happens, and with the speed of the Internet it is becoming harder and harder for oppressive governments to make such news disappear.

          So in all likelihood instead of having to send someone halfway around the world every time a story breaks we will

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Don't over exaggerate the internet. It is simply a digital network with open access. What is happening is the internet basically illuminates the difference between a radio station, a televisions station and a newspaper. They all have web sites and they compete with web only sites for viewer numbers.

          So streamlining, modern media companies will run having all those segments covered, they will be a newspaper, a radio stations, a tv station and a website.

          They will have to compete on a global basis, even mo

      • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:06PM (#26952703)

        I remember one comment was "How many bloggers are embedded in Falujah?"

        Just out of interest, how many (western) newspaper journalists were embedded in Falujah? The pattern across the board is for newspapers to keep cutting journalists on-the-ground, depending on hacks sub-editing Associated Press releases (and Associated Press seem to be constantly cutting journalists too). The reason internet bloggers recycling second-hand stories is a real threat to the newspaper industry is that that's just what the newspapers themselves have been doing for quite a while now. It's an enlightening excercise to pick a story and compare the actual text across different newspapers to see how many phrases are identical -- it's usually quite high. The stuff that newspapers still tend to do for themselves is the entertainment, gossip and sport. It's a lot cheaper to send a reporter to a celeb party or a big match than to a war zone -- it might even be free: some papers have been running punter reviews of concerts for years, and reader-generated content seems to be increasing.

        • Just out of interest, how many (western) newspaper journalists were embedded in Falujah?

          I don't know, but many people in the military blog. Of course, they're biased towards a US victory. And they won't blog until the fighting is done and they have spare time to do it.

      • by rho ( 6063 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:09PM (#26952729) Homepage Journal

        How many bloggers are embedded in Falujah

        Dunno if he was in Falujah or not. []

        The disruption that the Internet lowers the cost of having your voice heard to near zero. The newspaper's advantage isn't that they have reporters. The newspaper's advantage is that they have editors.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *

          > The newspaper's advantage is that they have editors.

          Past tense. The old media would be dying a lot slower, if at all, if your statement were still true but it just isn't. You can read major news stories at major papers and find common grammar and spelling mistakes on a daily basis. It doesn't sound like something that would prove fatal at first thought but I think it is THE problem. If the editors aren't even able to spot the obvious errors or even invoke a spell checker it eventually becomes obviou

          • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:29AM (#26957047) Homepage Journal

            If the editors aren't even able to spot the obvious errors or even invoke a spell checker it eventually becomes obvious to even normal people that the editors probably aren't there any more. If an article isn't even spell checked it probably wasn't fact checked any better.

            Mainstream news editors seem to serve mostly to fuck stories up []. (I use this as my example because I'm quoted in it.) That particular article is a gentle example - we'll never see this sort of thing presented for an important story. They don't let people who would do this write those. Even so they changed the article substantially to demonize and sensationalize. In they process they actually made it less grammatically correct.

      • "How many bloggers are embedded in Falujah?"

        Here's one who's doing at least as much hot-spot in-country reporting as your typical NYT correspondent: [] There's no particular reason you need to be a full-time employee of a print publication to report from warzones.

        David Simon is probably right that there will always be major media organizations who maintain pools of employed reporters to deploy to newsworthy locations, but why "large" has to equal "print" I'm not quite so sure.

      • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @09:01PM (#26953149) Homepage

        It's utter nonsense. Doctrow is a self important blowhard who, for reasons unknown, people think is actually relevant.

        It's hard to see how your criticism is correct. Doctorow hedges a lot in this essay (one's "favorite medium" will be "devoured, transformed, or destroyed". That covers a lot of possibilities). But even if he's wrong in this essay, your criticism is unjustified and overly harsh: Doctorow is a writer making his money from selling books one can download free, something long thought impossible in the 'why pay for what you can get for free' philosophy. He is walking the talk showing us through his example how one can license liberally, make a living with a huge online component to one's work, and sustain this for years on end. Perhaps there's a message in there for the proprietors of movies, newspapers, TV, and music.

        That the Internet can't ever replace newspapers and proper reporting.

        One hopes the lecturer didn't conflate such different things as you just did. There's nothing categorically improper about the reporting going on online, and there's nothing categorically proper about reporting in print. Newspapers can switch to online publication and offer the same caliber of reporting they offer now. It's not the quality of reporting that prevents newspaper publishers from losing their print publications. The New York Times, for instance, can continue to lie about the most important issue of the day [] while punishing authors of far less important articles in ridiculous public displays (Judith Miller versus Jayson Blair) whether they do it in print or online. The medium can change and the reportage can remain the same.

        "How many bloggers are embedded in Falujah?"

        That doesn't strike me as nearly important as asking: How many reporters are independent? How many are not embedded with the military? How many are failing to present a "difficult public face for [their media organization] in a time of war" or judging their effectiveness by comparing to competitors who are "waving the flag at every opportunity"? Phil Donahue's CNBC show was cancelled for the reasons quoted in these last two quotes, according to a leaked internal memo []. I don't recall most of the major news outlets telling us much about the millions on the streets of the world protesting the US invasion of Iraq before it began. I recall them getting head counts wrong and ignoring well-spoken war critics lest their contrary views gain mainstream exposure and thus legitimizing them in the views of those who consume nothing but corporate news. I don't recall good corporate news analysis of the run-up to the war before or after Col. Powell's lies to the UN. Instead, I recall seeing a strong imbalance of views on-air favoring pro-war voices []. Some of the most valuable journalism about this war has come from unembedded independent journalists on far less-widely seen shows like "Democracy Now! []". It seems to me that the medium isn't the critical factor here, what the news organization says is.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It's utter nonsense. Doctrow is a self important blowhard who, for reasons unknown, people think is actually relevant.

        And how are you any different? Everyone has a right to their opinion, and some think that others want to hear it. You obviously thought that someone wanted to hear yours. I guess the difference is that he is a successful author whose words people actually pay to read, and you're just some asshole on the net.
      • That the Internet can't ever replace newspapers and proper reporting.

        I think some kids are on your lawn, maybe you'd better go scare them off.

    • Television news didn't eliminate the newspaper, and neither will the internet. Change it, of course, eliminate, no way !

      Don't forget radio, the second-oldest medium. Still alive, kicking, and well. Why, we even have a huge radio system supported in large part by private donations...gasp! Shows like Lake Woebegone and Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me live and indeed embrace new media; I listen to WWDTM all the time via my my iPod, downloaded via podcasts.

      This latest is just the gasp of a flunkie, uneducated

      • by David McBride ( 183571 ) <david+slashdot.dwm@me@uk> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:35PM (#26952933) Homepage

        You can bash the man if you like, but you'd be more convincing if you laid off the ad hominem attacks and got your facts straight:

        This latest is just the gasp of a flunkie, uneducated has-been science fiction author whose work is so spectacularly bad that he had never had a commercially successful work.

        On the contrary; his latest novel "Little Brother" made the New York Times Bestseller list (Childrens) [], reaching the #8 spot after 6 weeks. It's had multiple print runs [], been published in both the US and the UK, where they've sold well, and has been nominated for and granted a range of literary awards [].

        I'd say that qualifies as a commercially successful work by any reasonable definition!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DJRumpy ( 1345787 )
      I actually agree with this guy. They just converted PC magazine to a digital format. Initially I thought I would hate it, but I've found it's just much more convenient to read on my laptop. I can also refer to old magazines now without carrying them around with me in the real world, their search-able, and I don't have to type out those long as URL's for something of interest in the magazine ;)

      Much like the streaming video is starting to cause a hit for the cable companies since people can simply view wha
  • news @ 11 (Score:2, Insightful)

    This is actually quite obvious. Does he enlighten us about how those media are going to evolve? Tthis part isn't obvious.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )

      That's the thing. For example, it's easy to suggest that they find a new business model, it's harder to suggest a viable business model that works, I'm skeptical that there is one.

      This is especially true in an age where people don't want to pay for media, and don't want to see ads that would pay for that media. So where does that leave the media that costs money to produce?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RabidMoose ( 746680 )
        Once the media is done being created, it becomes essentially free to distribute and reproduce. Drop the price by 75%, leave out DRM, and new markets open up for it. There's 6.5 billion people on this planet. Only about half of them have internet so far, but we're quickly zoning in on a world where if you have electricity, you have internet. So make something good enough and cheap enough, and you'll make a tidy profit off the masses.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          And, uh, where exactly is the profit for that? Because if you think modern media has a 75% markup over costs, you have no idea what the costs of modern media (books, television, music, movies, any of it) actually are.

          Yes, you must factor in profit, because as much as the "free everything" crowd wants you to believe it, most high-quality media is still put out by profit-making people who spend money to make money.

          • Content @ 11 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Ostracus ( 1354233 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:51PM (#26952589) Journal

            I hate to be blunt but this is the real reason modern media will have problems. Basically to start with there's an uneducated public when it comes to the process of content creation and profit. Throw in unrealistic expectations. Add in a public armed with the technological tools to bypass any means to recuperate costs. Shake well and you have no one really getting what they want.

          • by Kjella ( 173770 )

            And, uh, where exactly is the profit for that? Because if you think modern media has a 75% markup over costs

            He said drop the price by 75% so that would imply they have over 300% markup. Hits certainly can have that, but on average along with all the flops? No way.

      • by Hao Wu ( 652581 )
        There is no longer a need for reporters to tell us what has happened..... I'M SEEING IT MYSELF, and I don't want their narration or stupid opinions about it.
    • Re:news @ 11 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Sunday February 22, 2009 @06:56PM (#26952181) Homepage Journal
      Time magazine recently had a very good article [] about this. It's spread across 4 pages, so here's the important part:

      "The key to attracting online revenue, I think, is to come up with an iTunes-easy method of micropayment. We need something like digital coins or an E-ZPass digital wallet -- a one-click system with a really simple interface that will permit impulse purchases of a newspaper, magazine, article, blog or video for a penny, nickel, dime or whatever the creator chooses to charge..."

      "...Admittedly, the Internet is littered with failed micropayment companies. If you remember Flooz, Beenz, CyberCash, Bitpass, Peppercoin and DigiCash, it's probably because you lost money investing in them..."

      "...Under a micropayment system, a newspaper might decide to charge a nickel for an article or a dime for that day's full edition or $2 for a month's worth of Web access. Some surfers would balk, but I suspect most would merrily click through if it were cheap and easy enough..."

      "...I say this not because I am "evil," which is the description my daughter slings at those who want to charge for their Web content, music or apps. Instead, I say this because my daughter is very creative, and when she gets older, I want her to get paid for producing really neat stuff rather than come to me for money or decide that it makes more sense to be an investment banker."
      • Yup, micropayments do seem like the answer. I'd happily pay around 1Â for a most of the articles I read in my daily RSS feeds, or something like $1 per month for a subscription. Maybe even more. It has to be easy, and it has to be cheap. There are no distribution costs, and the potential market is bigger, so it has to be cheaper than a daily newspaper, but I wouldn't mind paying for the BBC news or the Guardian's RSS feed. I'd even pay for El Reg if they fired Andrew Orlowski.
      • Micropayment? Not gonna happen, because:

        a) To make it work all payments would have to be through a single entity.

        b) Nobody in the money business wants somebody else to be in control of micropayments. As soon as one springs up, everybody else starts attacking it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella ( 173770 )

        If you're going to charge micropayments, you're better off doing advertising anyway. We all tend to tolerate that in small amounts, I got a google text ad on this very page I'm writing this comment and it doesn't bother me. I don't want to constantly look and see if it's 10 cents or 25 cents for this and that and suddenly there's some link scam to rack me up some dollars. With ads I'm paying in the watching and it's incredibly much simpler for me. Micropayments got such a negative value in itself that it ne

        • by xeoron ( 639412 )
          All valid points, but the problem with ads is that people learn to tune them out when they become intrusive. I know that I personally avoid ads in whatever medium because of this, unless I am shopping around for something and want to start to see what options there are beyond web-searches and word of mouth.
  • he might be right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:04PM (#26952239)

    What pisses me off about these blogs (techdirt is another), is how doggone smug they seem about the whole thing, with the implication that they (the bloggers) have found a business model that works for writers and creative artists; everyone else needs to get with it and adopt a similar approach.

    But the bloggers' business model depends on linking to other people's content, which is usually produced by non-blogging professionals. Almost anyone with a college degree and a few years' background in an industry can spend 15 minutes writing a provocative summary about some story in the news, or someone else's work. Nobody is going to pay to read these blogs, since similar quality posts on the same subjects can be easily found by googling. Frankly, what these industry bloggers do has little to do with either creativity or journalism (or economics, in the case of techdirt).

    Who is going to pay for the original piece of investigative journalism, specialized analysis, or original creative work? Should everyone under 35 in one of these businesses start applying to law school?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nyctopterus ( 717502 )

      You know what I'd pay for? Decent news that is CITED. Like a scientific paper, or even a fricken' Wikipedia article. If stories are grossly in error, they should be retracted. Smaller errors are corrected through notification.

      That's all it would take, really, and I'd start paying for it.

      Journalism, as it currently stands, is hopelessly unreliable. Have you ever read a piece on something you have specialist knowledge of? It's scary.

  • Risk of Death Spiral (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:12PM (#26952291) Journal
    Obviously, certain aspects of the internet threaten newspapers(Hi Craigslist!) chiefly through hitting their ad and classifieds revenue, and in siphoning off some readers.

    Beyond that, though, I fear that the papers' response to this will, in many cases, be what ends up killing(or at least mutilating beyond recognition) them. Essentially, the problem is this: High quality news reporting is more expensive than printed trash reporting, vapid gossip, and opinion. On the internet, vapid gossip and opinion are free. So, the newspapers' costs are always going to be higher than the internet's costs. However, if the newspapers move to cut costs by cutting back on good reporting, the quality of their product will go down, and the value proposition of paper will become even weaker in comparison to web.

    I hope that at least some paper news sources will be able to swim upstream, instead of trying to out-cut the internet(which they'll never be able to do) and differentiate themselves by providing high quality reporting that classic internet sources don't. If, though, the papers just keep cutting quality in order to attempt to match price with the web, they will deserve their own inevitable deaths.
    • The most successful recent example in terms of subscribers is probably The Economist newsmagazine, which has had about a 5x increase in subscribers over the past decade.

    • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:35PM (#26953747)

      I must say that the race to the bottom began a long time ago when newspapers stopped doing original reporting in favor of rehashing AP articles and started doing more fluff and spin. They are the ones who devalued their product, because it was cheaper and easier to do and because it puffed up the owners' ideological egos (read: Rupert Murdoch). So why not get equally vapid content and chatter on the web for free?

      Anyone who wants real news will turn to the BBC, CBC, NPR, PBS, or foreign-language publications like Der Spiegel. And because they do something valuable, they will survive.

  • Addendum (Score:4, Informative)

    by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:13PM (#26952303) Journal

    Let me add to the prediction:

    As more and more bloggers and online news sources lower themselves and write in the inflammatory trolling style of FOX or the SUN in order to get advertising pennies from community participation, punching them in the face with useless WEB 2.0 to boot, loyal readers enter their thirties and stop caring about the circle jerk because the have to prioritize their time better, like having and raising kids

    Those kids eventually create their own poorly organized internet communities. After several years they become the new twenty somethings and, like all generations before them, they won't care what their mom and dad is blogging about.

    Furthermore, I submit instead of taking a generation to usurp the status quo, like it was in the past, it's now around the 4 year mark I.E. about the same time it takes to go through highschool.

    So not only are traditional media dying, but new media is also dying.

    All my favorite websites from the late 90s are long gone, the ones that are left I barely use anymore.


    • >>All my favorite websites from the late 90s are long gone, the ones that are left I barely use anymore.

      >>Discuss. /. seems to be holding on pretty well, eh?

      • I would say no, it isn't holding on that well. I stopped posting comments soon after all this javascript came in. Too confusing, mixed with time constraints, equals I stopped caring.

        For sure SourceForge INC has a lot to offer, and I still 3 slashdot for what it is, but the legendary slashdot effect is nothing when compared to sites like Digg, Redddit, or 4chan. I would even say that Boing Boing is above our beloved green ugly stick.

        All sites I don't use. Thus, I'm part of a generation, and there's an evide

    • SO you mean like how /. has been tanking hard? The I could go sleding on the alexa results,

      I wondered about the same thing, all the people who started reading /. in their 20's in 99 are now in their thirties, middle managers, who's entry pay was far higher than now, and it really shows. /. is becoming the website your boss reads and the users are becoming more old, grumpy, and greedy. perhaps news will become more like coffee shops? and will be open for a few decades but become unhip and fade away as the

  • Internet is not only source of news not from far left. Liberal paper editors & owners refuse to consider lack of readers may be same as lack of watchers for Liberal TV news. My small town paper loses 8% of subscribers each year and responds with more articles from NY Times. Most remaining readers read only obituaries, grocery ads & county news.
  • by Simulant ( 528590 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:28PM (#26952431) Journal


    for many kinds of books -- long-form narratives, for instance -- reading off a screen is a poor substitute for a cheap and easy-to-buy codex...

    Me thinks the author is being a bit biased since this is what he writes. I hate to break it to you Cory but long-form narratives are EXACTLY what an e-book reader is good for. They are not good for reference material because random access is too slow. (at this stage, they just can't compete with thumbing through a printed text-book, programming manual or travel guide) They might be ok for newspapers & magazines if anyone ever decides to format them properly. BUT, they are absolutely perfect for novels and anything else that you'd care to read from cover to cover.

    I don't know that e-book readers are for everyone but if you love to read and you travel a lot, it's great to be able to lug an entire library of books with you in one very small package. On any given trip, I can bring, on my reader, more than enough reading material for myself, a bunch of children's books to read to my daughter, and maybe an audio-book and some music for good measure.

    After a year with it, I can't say that I miss the printed page at all... and don't get me started on what I can find to read on the internet for free....

    Finally, they cost about $270 now and dropping. Be afraid.

    • From an author-making-money perspective, e-books are pretty similar to printed books, because people still buy them on places like Amazon. For a variety of reasons, they haven't developed the same way as newspapers, where the online edition is free. It's easier to grab them free off torrent sites, of course, but I'm not sure that alone will kill the book industry, especially as it seems to be less widespread than unauthorized music copying. The fact that ebook readers like the Kindle make it much easier to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rrohbeck ( 944847 )

      I have to agree. The only thing that's keeping ebook readers from taking the world is their closed nature.
      Now an open device with an e-ink display that can run for a couple of days on a charge (99.9% on standby of course) and can read the usual formats... that would be something I'd buy in a heartbeat. Right now I still read e-books on my laptop (tried the phone but it doesn't have enough resolution for comfortable reading.)

  • I predict that (org) will be around forever....

  • Yeah I mean look at what 'talkies' did to movies! Now we have to sit and LISTEN to these so called "actors." It damn near put the piano player out of existence. Thank goodness someone made a piano bar.
  • by Eth1csGrad1ent ( 1175557 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:53PM (#26952611)

    Yes, they have to adapt. They need an online presence. They need a different approach, to marketing and advertising.

    But there are a few things that people seem to forget when making the argument that the internet will kill media as we know it.

    1. Local news. Sorry, but unless a plane drops out of the sky, CNN isn't remotely interested in in Ballarat, Australia - nor do most CNN readers care about the local government elections, or which local VIP has just been arrested for DUI, or who won the district football on the weekend - but I do, and so does our local newspaper.
    While they don't have the circulations of the major world newspapers...the bulk of print news is still regionally based.

    2. Local Advertising. The local plumber doesn't need to or want to advertise to the entire state, country or to the world writ large. He wants to target the people in his immediate area, and the larger newspapers, and TV, are cost prohibitive, and online sites (mostly) don't meet that need. Local businesses and small businesses need a
    centralised local vehicle to push their message.

    2. Content. Someone, somewhere has to generate it. Someone has to follow up on leads and stories, and get the word out. Sure, once the word IS OUT, there is no limit to the number of places online where you can find out about it, but someone had to go out and get the story in the first place, check the facts, and filter it down to a piece that most people can digest. THIS is where newspapers must head if they want to survive.
    They need to be going out and getting the in-depth investigations and stories that their competitors don't have, and stop relying on regurgitating the same stories that everyone else has.

    If a plane drops into the Hudson, or a bushfire kills hundreds in Australia, its covered.. by everyone.. and I can find information on it everywhere. Its the local impact or other local events IN ADDITION TO the major news items, that push me to select one news organisation over another, and one medium over another, for day to day consumption.

    As long as people still want to sit down with a coffee to read through the week's news, local, national, international, and do the crosswords, read the comics etc., newspapers will be around. People enjoy sitting down and flicking through a paper at their leisure, and you can't do that online. Having said that, one does not preclude the other - they're different beasts.

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:24PM (#26952847)

    While the Internet has the potential to help the dying book industry,

    What dying book industry? Sure, quality books might be dying and in the economy not many people want to pay ~$16 for something they can get at a library for free, but in the last 10 years, literature, especially children to teen books have been exploding with growth, you only need to look at the Harry Potter craze and now the Twilight craze to understand that.

  • Independent music, movies, and "news" are thriving on the internet. Unfortunately only a few people have figured out a way to turn that into real money, but I'm sure that will change as the traditional revenue strategies die off.

  • Kiosks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by opencity ( 582224 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:52PM (#26953079) Homepage

    ... with custom papers. I go to my news stand and order up a paper, AP, NYT, Nature, NBA, Premiership, brassiere ads, lots of cartoons and comic strips (that's what I want). The size allows for bigger pretty pictures than my laptop. It's paper so I don't worry about spilling coffee on it or reading it in a crowd or leaving it in a restaurant. I do the puzzles and drop the paper off at a news stand where a magic process strips the ink with a minimum of energy and water foot print. The paper is recycled.

    Sci Fi I know, so flame away.

  • HEY!

    Lameness filter override: Mairzy dotes and dozy dotes and little lamsy divey,
    A kiddly divey, too -- wouldn't you?

  • Well, thank you Captain Obvious for saving us from things we all figured out ten years ago. We were all waiting for a real shit disturber to come slap us out of our complacent torpor.

    It is not a matter of "if" or "when" but "who". Which dirty media cartel will be the first to shake off their old-world vestiges and take a real step into the world of post-internet media ? Right now, they don't get it. We're waiting for a revolution, but the bigwigs aren't thinking outside the box. Their current strategy

  • Cory Doctorow? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ral8158 ( 947954 )

    ...People still care what Doctorow has to say? He's still around?

    For real?

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @09:10PM (#26953239) Homepage

    The death of the newspaper is getting close. As the article says, is that "newspapers are fundamentally an advertising-supported medium", and they're not a very good advertising-delivery medium. They're not targeted, and they're not searchable. Classified advertising is dying.

    But nobody is taking over general news reporting. Blogs don't have real reporters, just pundits. TV covers the big stories, but there's no depth.

    Only a few services aimed at the investment community do real reporting and make money by selling their content. The Wall Street Journal makes most of its money from subscriptions, not ads. Dow Jones (the WSJ's parent) makes more revenue on line than from the print edition. The future of news reporting is Bloomberg. Bloomberg is entirely on line, has more reporters than any newspaper in the US, and to get the good stuff in real time, hundreds of thousands of traders pay serious money. After some delay, Bloomberg puts out summaries for free.

    There's still noise about "micropayments", but having watched everybody from Digicash to Cybercoin to Beenz go down, I doubt micropayments on the Internet will ever catch on. Phone-based systems, though...

    Also, "crowdsourcing" a movie is a fantasy. Every once in a great while, somebody produces a good movie on a low budget, but that's rare. Roger Corman could do it, but nobody else seems to be able to bring it off.

  • by yelvington ( 8169 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:46PM (#26953803) Homepage

    There's a rash of hyperbolic commentary lately about the "death of newspapers" from people who have no idea what they're talking about. Doctorow's post is just one more float in the parade.

    In the United States, the typical newspaper is fundamentally a local-regional advertising business. Local and regional advertising is changing, but it's not going away.

    The typical American newspaper produces a portfolio of print (daily, weekly, monthly) and online products. These include both mass and targeted media. It turns an annual profit (not a loss) ranging from 10 to 20 percent. The ad revenues alone -- not counting print circulation --roll up to a $45 billion annual total nationwide.

    Some newspapers are losing money and will close this year. But the more common situation is a publisher cutting staff, pagecount and sometimes even frequency in order to maintain profit margins so that corporate finance requirements can be maintained.

    Corporate finance is the real problem. Over the last 20 years, newspaper owners borrowed heavily to buy more newspapers (and take over other chains), assuming that historically aberrant profit margins -- sometimes in the 35 to 45 percent range or even higher -- would continue forever.

    The current business recession has suddenly placed those debt-laden companies in peril. Lee Enterprises, which recently narrowly avoided bankruptcy by renegotiating some loans, actually turned an operating profit of over 20 percent last year.

    I'm not in denial about the effects of the Internet. They are real and serious, but they are longterm, and they are not the cause of the crisis currently facing newspapers, regardless of the self-serving BS being spread by various media pundits.

    The irony is that the financial crisis has awakened slumbering newsrooms and sales forces, while robbing them of the resources they need to respond to those longterm challenges.

    Ever since I left print and moved to the online side of journalism in 1994, I've been battling people who had their head in the sand about the importance of the changes in media caused by the Internet.

    No more. Confusion and bewilderment, yes. Denial, no.

    I fully expect to see some big bankruptcies in the next several months. Journal Register Co. declared bankruptcy Saturday, following the overleveraged (Chicago) Tribune Co. and the Minneapolis Star Tribune in seeking protection from creditors. Some big dailies, such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News, will close, along with a lot of weeklies.

    But hundreds of other papers will continue to operate profitably.

    Among them, some will be smart enough to invest in creating new products that are more aligned with our net-connected and increasingly mobile lives.

    [Note: Worrying about this stuff is my day job. You can follow me on twitter [] or at my blog [].]

  • by gadlaw ( 562280 ) <> on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:20AM (#26954305) Homepage Journal
    Cory Doctorow has a Crystal Ball into the present - big woop. He's 'predicting' what is happening now. This looks like someone just trying to get clicks to that site which I ignore. Nothing cool or interesting there and there's nothing like some pronouncements into the future that are just rehashing the headlines of today.
  • 10 years late? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:21AM (#26954309)
    Isn't Cory's brilliant insight coming about 10 years late?
  • by bXTr ( 123510 ) on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:53AM (#26954453) Homepage

    This from someone who works for a website [] that believes they can actually "unpublish" something. Can I "unpublish" this comment after submitting it? No.

    Yes, it's their website. Yes, they can do what they want with it. That's not the point. Anyone who believes they can just "unpublish" something after they've already put it out on the Internet for all to see isn't someone I would listen to about things like this.

  • Hogwash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <orionblastar@gmS ... com minus distro> on Monday February 23, 2009 @12:59AM (#26954501) Homepage Journal

    The media businesses will stay in business as long as they learn to adapt to new trends like the Internet.

    Hulu [] was developed when too many TV shows got captured and posted on Youtube for free and hosted via file sharing networks. The videos got pulled from Youtube and hosts the old TV shows and some movies for free, with limited interruption advertising. makes money off of advertising added to the videos, plus advertising on the web site to view the videos, all while providing free videos to its users. There is no need to pirate those TV Shows or host them on Youtube and violate copyrights.

    The same with music, one can create a music station like or Yahoo Launchcast Music that plays free Internet music via a radio-like broadcast system catered to the listener's likes and dislikes. Inbetween songs can be put in commercials.

    The same with books, after so many pages of reading, there are a few advertising spots before the next few pages are displayed, the same with newspapers. Along with advertising on those web sites that have the electronic version of books and newspapers and magazines.

    Plus it allows people to get into the media business by themselves by starting up their own web site or use free resources to start their own media site for free. Then pay for putting in Google AdSense or some other advertising system on their paid or free web site to bring in the revenue.

    Of course there will always be free and open source web sites for free and open source media. Be it Wikis, or CMS forums like Slashdot or CNet, blogs, other forums, or just web site with content on it.

    Print is dead, but ePrint replaced it.

    Newspapers are dead, but eNewspapers, Blogs, Forums, Wiki sites, etc replaced them.

    The Music industry is dead, but the eMusic industry that sells songs via files or pays for them via advertising have replaced them.

    The movie industry is dead, but, Netflicks, Blockbuster, etc replaced them.

    Learn to adapt to changes in technology or die like the dinosaurs did. Grow, evolve, change, whatever it takes to modify your business model and technology to take advantage of new trends and new technology and new media containers.

    I don't really see it as all that different from when we went from Color TV, to VHS video tapes, to DVD video, to Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Video, to Video files over the Internet. It is the same product, just different technology. In the case of the media file it is a pattern of bits which can be easily duplicated for pennies on the dollar instead of being a physical media container which costs more. So in theory, a media company putting their content on files, instead of a physical container, would save a lot of money by just selling files instead of audio CDs, Video DVDs, Paper Books, Paper Newspapers, etc.

    The only issue is how to combat piracy when the media is in a format that is easier to copy than the physical matter format. One way to do that is keep prices low, another way is to offer it for free with advertsing ala and other web sites.

    This is not brain surgery, this is really really simple. Ask any of us Computer Geeks how to create a file of information and host it on a web site with advertising, etc. Most of us are out of work and need jobs creating the new web sites for the media companies anyway, it is a win-win situation.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus