There’s a lot of talk today about how the new big screen Kindle could help save the bleeding newspaper industry. As we laid out last night, that is complete BS. But I think it’s worth revisiting a video we posted a few months back about the topic. It’s from 1981 (incidentally, the year I was born), showing that newspapers seemed to have some idea about what the future of their industry would be.
It’s a common misconception that newspapers are simply late to the Internet game. As this video shows, some of them (including some of the major ones now failing) have been thinking about this stuff for 28 years. That is a long, long time. Towards the end of the video, the local news reporter says, “the day will come when we get all our newspapers and magazines by home computer, but that’s a few years off.” And this was at a time when hilariously, it took 2 hours to receive an entire newspaper over the modems of the day, and it cost $5 an hour to transfer that data — at the time newspapers were $0.20. Despite all of that, the local reporters were smart enough to see that the writing was still on the wall.
The beginning of the video is perhaps the most direct and interesting: “Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home computer to read the day’s newspaper. Well, it’s not a far-fetched as it may seem. In fact, both local San Francisco papers are investing a lot of money to try and get a service just like that started.” What happened?
The video ends with the local news reporter saying, “so for the moment, at least, this fellow [a newspaper delivery guy], isn’t worried about being out of job.” That fellow is unfortunately very likely out of a job now.