This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

August 31, 1999

Shift to Electronic News Publishing

122 days until January 1, 2000

We're noting a trend toward more use of the internet by daily newspapers and other publications. A significant number of newspapers already publish their "help wanted" classified advertisements on-line, providing needy advertisers with much wider exposure to promote their job openings. More newspapers are putting editorial and display advertising on the web.

CNN News and similar organizations are delivering a strong web presence for national and international news. Community and metropolitan newspapers are now posting local and regional news, as well as national stories, to supplement and compete with the national and international news organizations. The competition for subscribers, and the struggle for cost-effectiveness, is driving these changes.

Now the movement has taken another step. The Orem Daily Journal produced the Utah daily's final print edition July 30, shifting to solely online production Aug. 5. While numerous U.S. weeklies have moved to exclusive Web production, The Journal may be the first daily to make the leap. Utah ranks fourth in the USA in the percentage of residents with Internet access, certainly a factor in the decision.

As the proportion of internet users increases, expect to see more publications offer parallel electronic versions, then shift to all electronic distribution. We'll see this trend manifested in some local newspapers, trade magazines, and association magazines. A number of newsletters, subscription and corporate are already shifting to internet publishing.

Dangers: people who resist the new technologies will be out of the race. Traditional printing and mail delivery will not be done--the production costs for a relatively few copies will make the "old" alternative too expensive. Fax technology won't do either, even with electronic transfer to fax machines. Socioeconomic under-classes will be disenfranchised as they are effectively denied access.

The next wave of social service support may be to provide internet access for the digitally disadvantaged. At first, we'll see communication centers where the less fortunate can come to learn about computers and check e-mail. Then, governments and charities will buy computers for their needy clients. As parity is achieved, electronic communication will become even more powerful and the world will shrink even more.

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