The future of newspapers

The much-anticipated demise of newspapers (or ‘dead-tree media’) in the midst of the breathless hype around Web 2.0 and what it might mean for journalism and media, is a recurring panic in scholarly and journalistic circles. There was a conference with the title ‘The Future of Newspapers’ at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies last year (where I presented a paper on the Daily Sun and the ‘tabloid revolution’ in South Africa – selected papers from the conference, including mine, are forthcoming in issues of Journalism Studies and Journalism Practice). My argument was that, while the future of newspapers might look uncertain to some in the global North, this ‘dead-tree media’ is very much alive in countries in the developing world. The Daily Sun is now the biggest newspaper in South Africa, leading a boom in tabloid newspapers among the black majority who had been marginalised by the mainstream elite press even after apartheid. In today’s Media Guardian there is an interesting report about the strong growth of newspaper circulation in India. That country is now the second largest newspaper market in the world. And it is creating spinoffs – recently, the Times of India bought the UK-based Virgin Radio in an act of ‘reverse colonisation’. The future of newspapers might not be as dismal after all.


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