DENVER – Print newspapers aren’t dying, but they will have to change constantly as more consumers look to digital delivery of their news, Dean Singleton, chairman and CEO of MediaNews Group, said Sept. 14 at the Associated Press Managing Editors 2011 Conference.
“Print is not dead – not by a long shot,” Singleton said during a panel discussion on The Future of News. Singleton said digital is the growth engine but still only 20 percent of revenue for newspapers, and digital relies on the print infrastructure for content. “A lot of people depend on print newspapers. A lot of advertisers depend on print newspapers.”
Singleton said the day may come when digital replaces print entirely, but “I don’t see it anytime soon.” He added: “Nothing is forever.” Print products need digital to keep their viability, Singleton said, and they need to find a new economic business model that works. “I think there’s a very exciting future to our business.” But he cautioned: “It’s a different business.”
Another panelist, AP President and CEO Tom Curley, told the editors that newspapers may be only at the beginning of an era of change. “You should go back and prepare your teams for the likely event that the change process is going to accelerate, not slow down,” he said.
Curley said upcoming innovations in the industry are cause to be optimistic. “I’m more excited about 2012 than any year in my career, and I’m more positive about our prospects than anytime I can remember.” After newspapers gave their content away in the early years of the Internet, “mobile (news delivery) is a great opportunity for a do-over,” Curley said, adding that the industry won’t get a third chance.
Panelist Kate Marymont, vice president/news for the U.S. Community Publishing division of Gannett Co., said Gannett is moving from page production at 81 sites to five design studios in Asbury Park, N.J.; Nashville, Tenn.; Louisville, Ky.; Des Moines, Iowa, and Phoenix, Ariz.
While the design studios will increase efficiency, their emphasis is on quality, giving readers of every platform the best possible experience, she said. “Nothing about studios is intended to strip the individuality of the newspapers,” Marymont said.