Digital to kill UK and US newspapers before 2020 [Infographic]

Australian futurist Ross Dawson has come up with these sobering graphics predicting the global extinction of newspapers in the coming decade. He is predicting the extinction of newspapers in the US around 2017 and in the UK by 2019.

Iceland’s papers will also go in 2019 with Canada and Norway in 2020. On a global level some of the factors leading to the (much written of) death of print include the rise in terms of availability of mobile phones, tablet computers and e-readers; the development of high performance digital paper; and the uptake of paid content and paywalls.

It feels like an incredibly short time frame and I’m not sure I believe that within nine years newspapers will disappear from the UK. They are likely to be diminished, but not gone. Its the same for the US.

If it does prove true and you still want a daily read, fear not, you can always head to some more distant parts of the globe. Dawson says that in Argentina and Mongolia papers should survive until 2040.

Not all the factors are about technology. Some he lists refer to economics. Papers will go bust, but it is technology that is the driving force behind their (total) demise.

Read also on the Wall

Is Print Dead? [Infographic] and Print is dead – long live the internet .

  • Steve Davies

    I started the UK’s first digital automotive magazine in 2008 and at the time most commentators considered it folly to imagine print magazine sales would decline to make a digital version viable. Most thought print would never die.

    I explained at the time that the decline in print would not be linear – yes new technologies are creating a disruptive effect as does the increased hours spent by users online and the growing online ad budgets, but the most significant driver of print’s decline will come from the reduced confidence and growth duration (the period in which revenues can be forecasted with any accuracy) of the sector.

    Put simply, without confidence of growth publishers will not be able to invest in updating resources and infrastructure, investors will seek shorter-term dividend yields rather than shareholder value growth (which means that shareholders will demand cash-in-hand, further reducing the capital available for reinvestment) and then there’s a tipping point whereby lack of investment, leads to declining growth which leads to undervalued assets and an easy takeover target.

    It all happens very quickly and it’s this that will force the change long before technology or consumer behaviour demands it. If anything i considered Ross Dawson’s 2019 prediction to be slightly optimistic.

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  • Chris

    I can see broadsheet papers being replaced by digital, not tabloids though. Bob the builder and Mike the mechanic will make sure of that…

  • @gordonmacmillan

    @Steve wow that is pessimistic. You make a strong case about declining return and investment, but the life of print (as opposed to its death) is linked in part to the demographic who buy newspapers. The demand from your 30 plus age group is still strong and as @chris says we have millions of tabloid readers.

    I think his analysis is too blanket and does not for instance take account of different buying patterns for newspapers — such as strong weekend sales. More than nine million newspapers are sold on Sunday in the UK. More than two million of those are quality papers (the sunday times still does one million plus).

  • Peter Sigrist

    @steve you’ve managed to express my feelings very nicely – that the shift from print to digital will accelerate as other factors ‘positively reinforce’ it.

    But I also think @gordon makes the most fundamental point of all – that the demand for printed papers will persist, no matter what happens. So it might be more useful not to talk about the total demise of the printed paper, but rather a time by which they will have become a niche (and probably fairly expensive) product, used by a small minority.

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  • Dean, freelance copywriter, London

    I travel into London every day, and I rarely see anyone reading a paper other than the free Metro. And I think I’m the only person who’s bought a copy of “i”. Maybe free papers will survive, but the others look doomed.

  • Steve Davies

    @Peter, that’s spot on and I should have clarified further in my original comment. It’s not that the printing of the written word will cease to exist – that’s overly melodramatic, but it will become a more niche medium for specific types of published content. As a digital publication we were planning a bi-annual print magazine printed on 300gsm paper with a nice glossy finish and lots of visual material (feature rich and commemorative of the previous 6-months highlights). It would be the kind of magazine that would sit on a coffee table and be read over an extended period, rather than the typical magazine which reaches the bin 24 hours after first being purchased.

    And @gordonmacmillan, this is not really a debate about the consumer buying patterns of today. We’re closing in very rapidly on a time when the economics of running an asset rich publishing business will present unattractive economic risks to shareholders and investors. This is not a new situation – technology has decimated previously established industries before, but the rate of change will be far quicker than most people imagine.

    I don’t see it as pessimistic though, the opportunities on the back of this transformation are perhaps the most exciting we’ve yet witnessed in the modern age – as long as companies adapt and change and recognise that it’s not going to be incremental.

  • Robespierre

    Ross Dawson will be extinct in seven years… Free beer tomorrow! (now I’m a futurist…)

  • patrick

    Not much new here. Phil Meyer wrote about this in his book “The Vanishing Newspaper” (2004). He predicted that the final copy of the final newspaper in the U.S. will appear on somebody’s doorstep one day in 2043. He’s a great prof. at the UNC School of Journalism in Chapel Hill, NC, and has been writing on this for years. Maybe he just needed a pretty infographic….

    Read more

  • John McCafferty

    Yea, yea and TV was going to kill radio, cable was going to kill network TV, digital radio would kill analog and chicken little said the sky is falling. The reality is, just like all the mediums in the past, newspapers will adapt to the changing times and technology. Newspapers won’t die, newsprint might. With all the doom and gloom about the death of newspapers, many small town papers are doing quite well. Several of the big papers that have gone under were over-leveraged and went away due to bad financial decisions and that is what is making headlines, at least in the U.S.

  • Louis Lafortune

    You people never mention WHO will pay for all this free information ? Add revenues ? Not for the moment. And I wouldn’t brag about reading free newspapers. Are you better-informed ? No. I worry about a future where we are bombarded by noise and cheap, superficial information and where people will, in the final run, be less informed than prior generations.

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  • Flavio

    This is a nice infographic which contains a reality. The newspaper end trends to be early than we think specialy after the tablets pcs.

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