Newspapers have another 10 to 20, new Lail poll says

Pie ChartNearly half the 75 people who took the Lail poll asking "Newspapers will print on paper for ..." (years) said it is most likely newspapers will be printing on paper for another 10-to-20 years.

(Click the pie chart to get a larger version.)

The number who said newspapers would be printed for less than 10 years or for more than 20 years is pretty close, with a quarter saying less than 10 years and 27 percent going for with more than 20 years.

Who took my poll? People that responded to my "take my one question" survey, basically. I don't pretend it's scientific. It could include users who saw it on this blog, on Twitter.com, on Facebook or in an email I sent to a Scripps New Media list and to Knoxville News Sentinel executives.

The poll was done by using the form creation tool in Google Docs, which works very well.

I promised to compare it to a recent Pew Poll. As best as I can tell the middle range of 10-20 is about the same as what  the journalists told Pew, but my poll takers see a greater possibly of newspapers ceasing publishing on paper within 10 years

Here are the comments I received in the poll. It's great reading and I appreciate all people who took time to answer the one question:

Not long.

The last newspaper will be printed next to the blacksmith's shop in the colonial village attraction.

I think newspapers will be printing for as long as there is a market for the product. Printed editions will change -- it won't be the daily newspaper as we know now -- to fit the content that works best for that medium.

Newspapers that allow users to define/customize the items/sections they want to read and deliver electronic and/or print versions will survive. Those who stick to the one-size-fits all, historical model will die from the waste of resources and lack of ingenuity.

It really depends on what you mean by "newspaper." Will the daily newspaper product we see now print for this long? No. It will become more and more of a niche product over time, with lower and lower circulation to a more dedicated, discriminating clientele. Meanwhile, I think we will see and are already seeing a net increase in other niche publications, some of which are created by newspapers and many of which are not. The actual number of copies will not be as important as the number of readers/subscribers, and the number of niches served. Basically, the stratification we've seen in the blogosphere and with user generated content in general will move into print, mobile devices and -- who knows -- chips in our brains? Distribution still matters, and print is a great vehicle for it. It just needs to be more unique to the individual. - Dan Pacheco, www.futureforecast.com

It depends upon when the ink, paper and delivery cost more than it is worth. Printing and delivering to a small no. of subscribers would be a huge expense. The question becomes: When will the subscriber base shrink to that level?

But that's not to say publishing companies won't be printing other things. If it were my choice, I'd be researching the viability of printing slick, weekly local news magazines that people subscribe to.

I believe the newsprint, broadsheet model will go away. Sadly, that model is easier to recyle. But let's face it. It's dirty and awkward to handle and I think young news readers, besides relying on the Web, view newspapers as insubstantial and they're certainly not attached to them. But that is guesswork on my part.

only for the next 50 years, most

Define "newspaper." I give them about five more years, tops. Probably more for the BIG majors (LA, NYC, DC, etc) but for pretty much all the rest, I give 'em about five years.


People who love print, love print. It's still a great user interface. And there is lots of room to innovate in this medium.

are you kidding me?  when i turn 58, i'll buy a paper just to prove my point.  you can't kill tangable.  even i as a geek know that.

Until the last boomer dies and affordable electronic paper is available.

There's still a lot of hold out. I suspect plenty will go online only as newsprint becomes more expensive and online business models solidify.

But from what editors have told me lately, at least in the Bay Area, print and online audiences don't much overlap. Ultimately, that's a good thing, I think, because it means there's more audience out there than we realize, but it also means we'll continue putting out two products for the foreseeable future.

The print edition is going to become the reverse publishing piece of the web. The printed paper will be a recap of what was online the day before. HEED MY WORDS!!!! : )

Major dailies 10-20. Niche and weeklies a lot longer.

Just in a different way than now -- smaller news hole, higher subscription prices, etc.

Those of us in our 40s hopefully will still be kicking and pining for the old paper.

How many high schools still have print papers? Colleges?

Foldable screens will obsolete paper

Newspapers will continue to be printed on paper for a while, simply because there is a generation of executives who simply refuse to believe that the future of journalism and newsgathering belongs on the Internet. Only when the stark reality of a business model that has not changed for the last century is finally made plain will publishers finally start to truly invest and innovate in the digital medium.

Comment from a colleague: Just change it to months (instead of years) and we're all set.

I think we will always have some form of printed newspaper.  You can't get past the convenience of paper.

As a 40-year-old who read the newspaper almost every day as a child and teenager, I have moved to the web only. And I am not alone.

I think they'll provide a print product for quite some time, BUT printing news on rolled up toilet paper and chucked in people's driveways is a business model that'll go the way of the... milkman.
Will H.

newspapers will print on less paper, but they will still print on paper for many, many years. word processing did not fully eliminate printed documents. email has not fully eliminated snail mail. books in electronic media form have not fully eliminated books. why would news online eliminate printed newspaper?

As long as there are blogs we will have customers needing informed factual reporting in print.
mb

They just won't look like what we are used to reading today.