Will the newspaper disappear forever? Eventually. More in part… the paper part of news. So what happens once a newspaper or magazine goes online, it becomes neither a magazine or a newspaper. It becomes just news. There’s also a couple of environmental pluses there, of course, with decreased burden on paper production including its attendant use of strong chemicals and all the carbon footprint implications of distributing physical newspapers around the world.

So who produces the news and at what cost once the papers are gone? Surely whilst online is free, the New York Times, Murdoch and other big hitters are implementing pay-walls for online news  and whilst this is fair play for quality journalism. The issue still remains, there will always be news online and  free, somewhere.

Rupert Murdoch speaking at George Washington University commented on his admiration for Apple’s iPad, which is a “glimpse of the future,” interestingly, he all but called for the end of the physical paper and ink newspaper. Stating, “If you have less newspapers and more of these [iPads] … it may well be the saving of the newspaper industry.” This is an amazing insight into Murdoch’s thinking. He really thinks, like many other commenter’s, that the iPad could save the newspaper industry. And he’s not at all afraid of technology, as long as it can be bent to his agenda: A paid iPad app with subscription access and all the protection of Apple’s locked-down iTunes distribution system lines up sweetly with Murdoch’s vision for the future of newsprint.

Some news publications are dieing fast and others need to die out so that people with a passion for the news can look at creating online news communities with a different business model, whose value proposition is good enough that people are willing to pay to participate.

I’m no longer purchasing a manufactured physical newspaper or magazine. I have not for over 6 months with the exception of the odd wine or cooking mag (maybe 2 issues). The online community provides plenty of options with amazing journalism, honest, fast and free reporting on most things we previously paid good money for. Essentially, newspapers will make a shift  from the current model into online communities, either free or paid. Focusing on two-way communication, not broadcast. The future is in building and engaging a community of interest by encouraging active participation, by allowing community members to actively discuss the news, a progression from existing blogs where the community, can also connect and meet and greet. In a way that social networks do such as Linkedin and Facebook but circulating around current news, world issues, sport and current affairs. Driven by community demand, not the advertising dollar (hmm interesting wish).

Murdoch won’t be swayed on his plans to erect paywalls around his news content, and to block or ban “people like Google or Microsoft or whoever from taking stories for nothing” by forbidding their web crawler technologies from accessing it. Murdoch’s dig at competitor New York Times‘ efforts at erecting a paywall, snubbing it as half-hearted and that the management doesn’t “seem able to make up its mind” on the matter is a classic example of an industry in crisis, looking to re-invent itself to a fast moving c-generation of connected, smart and well educated consumers in some cases already ahead of the game.

Yesterday, after meeting with the founder of Protein and blind Mice Studios for a coffee , I was given a first hand insight into there approach to developing applications for the iPad, iPhone and web (site & apps) that will continue to change the way modern media moves and more than likely, contribute to an ever changing world progressing from print to digital faster than we realise. Whilst I liked the idea of the iPad, after meeting with Galvin Scott Davis yesterday, I can confirm, I am still catching my breath at what those guys are creating at Protein so yes, we agree with Rupert, the iPad is a revolutionary innovation that will effect change and speed up the demise of printed media and in particular, the newspaper.

Ben Rennie