This past decade has seen the most dramatic, and some might say traumatic, changes that have ever come to the newspaper industry. But despite forecasts to the contrary, newspapers have a future, and a vital one, in American society.
To chart the course of that future, GRAPH EXPO convened a panel of experts yesterday for the presentation “2020: The Future Role of Newspapers.”
They were Rodd K. Winscott, president of the Printing Division of Chicago’s Newsweb Corporation; Marco Boer, Vice President of Hanover, MA-based IT Strategies; and Rick Surkamer, President of Lake Forest, IL-based Surkamer Advisors.
Leading off, Winscott noted that the industry’s past 10 years have been marked by revolutionary changes in digital technology and mobile Internet access.
“I expect the next 10 years will bring developments only being imagined now,” he added. “Newspapers will continue to provide news and entertainment to readers, as long as newspapers adapt to the needs of their readers.”
One way they are sure to adapt is through the use of more micro-zoned product. Readers’ need for specialized data lends itself to small and customized print runs, and newspapers will continue to serve their readers by reaching out in hypermarkets and micro-zones. “A 500,000-copy zone may be a questionable proposition,” Winscott said.
The industry is at a crossroads, he concluded. “The newspaper will always hold a place in people’s lives. But what remains to be seen is what form it will take. Digital printing is not for everyone, but it will continue to grow and impact the newspaper industry.”
Boer next took the dais, explaining that while analog printing still generates about 30 billion in revenue annually, the revenue generated by digital printing equipment makers is now about $120 billion a year. “There’s a lot of money to be had in digital printing,” Boer remarked. “And digital printing is still in the early stages of its growth curve. Digital print is not replacing analog pages, it’s creating new value. It’s not replacing analog, it’s running in parallel with analog.”
Inket is too slow for most newspaper applications, he noted. But newspaper printers are going to see new and increasing digital competition from entities not heard from before. They are going to pick up niche business and keep growing that strength. “Digital will never replace analog,” Boer said. But he added, “Don’t be deceived by digital print costs. The real cost is in the learning curve, not technology adoption.”
For his part, Surcamer predicted the newspaper of 2017 will look back on 2012 and revel in changes made to operations, IT and software, content, product delivery, call centers, creative, and business development and finance and administrative outsourcing, among others.
“We’re not wringing our hands any more,” he said. “We’re embracing the future “