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Q: Can Print Still Afford to Predict the Future?

A Day in News Consumption

This morning, my very first headline was Washingtonpost.com’s story on the freshly unveiled federal government bank rescue plan.

I was bleary-eyed from the night before and still banking on my morning cereal and coffee to be ready, but I nevertheless was ready to consume news. So I did.

It was 9:22 a.m. on Monday, March 23.

But hours later at lunch, I snagged a copy of Express, which is a daily free newspaper available in bins spaced about every fifteen feet in my university campus.

(Note: Washingtonpost.com and Express are produced by the same newspaper company, The Washington Post.)

My eyes scanned the second story on the front page: “Bank Rescue May Cost $1T, Administration to unveil plan to buy toxic assets Monday.”

It was 1:35 p.m. on Monday, March 23.

Is Print Prediction Still Cost-Efficient?

Being print, Express‘s deadline was the previous night – or perhaps even the crack-of-dawn this morning.

Since the hurting economy is on the brain, it seems the news of the bank rescue proposal was so relevant that even the I’m-outdated-by-the-day-of-publication newspaper boasted a story on its front page. Unfortunately, since no (known) journalist is psychic, the article couldn’t offer as many specifics as its up-to-date online version.

Instead, it was more of a, we know it’s going to happen and it’s gonna happen today news article.

This is no surprise in many ways. Before the 24/7 news cycle, newspapers had to predict the future, so to speak. News had to wait until the next news cycle – though if my memory of journalism history serves me right, there were historical moments when several issues were published a day when crucial news was breaking.

But today, when ad revenue and subscribers are down, there must be a better way to pay for all the tree-cutting, processing, printing and delivery.

Maybe there shouldn’t be print newspapers at all. From the moment they’re published, they’re yesterday’s news. This idea is not new.

Express may be free, but other print newspapers published and delivered to news stands this morning also couldn’t detail the bank rescue plan unveiled this morning. Since we live in a 24/7, instantaneous world, the old tricks of the print trade seem even more antiquated than ever.

The journalism industry needs to shape up and lose a few pounds.

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