I think I'm going to write more about the demise of the local newspaper industry.  Why?  A few reasons.

For one, I think it's a fascinating story about displacement forced by new technologies… a Clayton Christensen supernova exploding before our very eyes.  It's interesting because while the Web is killing newspapers in a broad sense, a variety of products, technologies, and Web 2.0 themes all in their own way make newspapers obsolete.  But owners/developers of these technologies aren't colluding to kill newspapers… it's just sortof happening across all elements of the newsroom.  Advertising, news collection, and news reporting are all more efficient with the strategic use of Web 2.0 technologies and themes.

Second, I never cease to be amazed by the fact that the death of newspapers is a "new story".  When I was on the Founding Team of Stratfor.com in 1998, we knew we were building a next-generation publication.  We were profiled in popular international publications.  We built a large and loyal customer base almost in the blink of an eye.  We understood that the Internet made information immediately available.  We understood that the time it took to produce a newspaper or magazine made a lot of news stale.  And we recognized that there was an information arbitrage opportunity in getting things out quickly.  It's why we deployed news, analysis, and commentary on the Web as it happened… blogging if you will, but in 1998… not in 2003 when the term was invented.

Sorry for the rant, but the changing of the guard from old models of news reporting and analysis to new ones isn't news.  All of it has been brought to light recently by the fact that publishing companies are just starting to figure all of this out.  The economics of the old model don't work.  All the while, consumers are getting their news and information from the Web… not the local newspaper.

The third reason I find the newspaper industry fascinating is on the advertising side.  Circulation is shrinking.  Ad revenues are shrinking.  Smaller companies that used to dominate local ad space are beginning to rethink their advertising strategies.  Money is tight and small companies need more effective ways to advertise.  Their customers are increasingly consuming information online, not offline.  It's arguable that people under the age of 30 don't even pick up the local newspaper with any regularity.  All of this is a vicious cycle for local publications that is largely irreversible.  If local newspapers want to survive, they are going to have to find a way to provide a better and more relevant advertising product to their local businesses… one that is online and real-time.  They also need to find a way to use Web 2.0 technologies and themes to their advantage to earn better operating efficiencies.

That said, I don't think newspapers are effectively dead.  They can react.  We are launching a product soon that newspapers can use to help provide a complimentary local advertising option to their ad offerings.  Our consulting group also helps publishers understand and use Web 2.0 to their advantage.  Who's to say if newspapers will survive.  I can say, though, that we're in worse shape as a society without the local voice.  We all stand to lose if local newspapers can't survive.