The future of newspapers? Things are starting to get clearer

Oct 12, 2009 at 11:25 am by staff

I’m seeing good things of late. People are starting to come out to conventions and training sessions again. Newspapers tell me they’re starting to refill positions that were cut last year. There’s an air of confidence in the industry, be it ever so slight, that gives me sincere hope for our future.

One of the changes I’ve noticed most is the dissipation of gloom that seemed to pervade our industry just a few months ago. It’s like we woke from a bad dream to find that things aren’t really as bad as we thought they were. Sure there have been some scary months. And there will be more to come. But I think most of us have decided we’re going to be around for a while, so we might as well get things in order.

The atmosphere at recent conferences in Saskatoon and Chicago was almost - dare I say - giddy. When newspaper people gather, they’re laughing again.

Six months ago, I worried whether we’d be able to attract enough attendees to hold another session of the Institute of Newspaper Technology. But October came and the session filled to capacity.

We’re starting to give serious thought to questions about the future of newspapers. Maybe news won’t be printed on paper in a few years, as my friend Ken Blum has stated. Then again, maybe it will. He and I can continue to fight that battle over lunch the next time we’re together. The fact remains that we as an industry are finally realizing we control our own fate to a large degree, and it looks like we’re ready to begin steering our own course once again.

Admittedly, I’ve not been immune to the feelings of gloom. As newspapers worried, conference attendance declined. Three of my booked events at conferences were cancelled this year, a first for me. Less newspapers were calling for on-site consulting and training. But just as the mood seemed to change among our papers, the phone (well, e-mail) began to ring again. Over the past few days, several state, regional, national and even a couple of international associations have called to book sessions at conferences in 2010.

Sure, we’re not out of the woods. But I see the clearing. And after the past couple of years, I’m going to allow myself to enjoy that for a while.

And that's all I have to say about that.



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