Government Technology
By Ulf Wolf: Citizen engagement and responsibility in the digital age.

Print Media An Endangered Species

November 8, 2010 By

Aussie Ross Dawson is a well-known Internet media guru who has never been shy in his predictions. In August of this year he predicted that newspapers in their current form will be irrelevant in Australia by the year 2022, an announcement that garnered a fair amount of international attention from quarters like The Australian and UK-based The Guardian.

In a recent blog, he has now come back with an expanded prediction that includes the projected newspaper “irrelevance date” for various nations.

As he puts it on the site, “Part of the point I wanted to make was that this date is different for every country. As such I have created a Newspaper Extinction Timeline that maps out the wide diversity in how quickly we can expect newspapers to remain significant around the world.

“First out is USA in 2017, followed by UK and Iceland in 2019 and Canada and Norway in 2020. In many countries newspapers will survive the year 2040.”

Global Variables

Taken from his site, here are some of the global factors that determine the remaining lifespan of the printed newspaper:

  • Increased cost performance of mobile phones
  • Increased cost performance of tablets/ e-readers
  • Development of high performance digital paper
  • Changes in newsprint and print production costs
  • Uptake of digital news monetization mechanisms
  • Trends in advertising spend and allocation
  • Development of open platforms

National Factors

Then there are national factors that extend or shorten the remaining newspaper lifespan, and they vary for each country. Those Ross took into consideration include:

Technology development

  • Fixed bandwidth availability and costs
  • Mobile bandwidth availability and costs
  • Smartphone and e-reader penetration

Economic development

  • Economic growth rate
  • Wealth inequality
  • Urban/ regional wealth disparity

Industry structure

  • Financial position of leading newspapers
  • Balance of advertising and print sales revenue
  • Newspaper distribution structures


  • Age structure, birth rates, and immigration
  • Degree of urbanization
  • Increase in literacy


  • Degree of regulation
  • Government financial support for media
  • Censorship and obstruction

Consumer behaviors

  • Media channel preferences
  • Willingness to pay for news

Relative interest in local and global news

Not a Question of If

The digital writing is on the wall. I believe that by 2050 the only print newspapers still surviving will be small, local papers that cover such news that the by now overwhelmingly digital news industry cannot or does not want to cover.

There will also still be a digital divide, primarily due to user preference (which also implies demographics, such as age), and those the reside on the far side of the divide will still support the printed newspaper, and keep the smaller, local papers alive.

Still, it is not a question of “if” the printed paper will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs; it is a question of when.

Ross Dawson is globally recognized as a leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, strategy advisor, and bestselling author. He is Founding Chairman of four companies: professional services and venture firm Advanced Human Technologies, future and strategy consulting group Future Exploration Network, leading events firm The Insight Exchange, and influence ratings start-up Repyoot.

Ross is author most recently of Implementing Enterprise 2.0, the prescient Living Networks, which anticipated the social network revolution, and the bestseller Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships. He is based in Sydney and San Francisco with his wife jewelry designer Victoria Buckley and two beautiful young daughters.



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