Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The "Electronic News Reader": Salvation for Newspapers?

I certainly appreciate all that the Internet and new-media technologies have wrought, including a democratization of information delivery. In some respects, your favorite major daily newspaper and your local blogger are now on the same playing field: Anyone, anywhere with Internet access can make information available instantaneously, and worldwide.

As a practical matter, I get most of my news online (and, on a side note, I confess that I enjoy listening to the talking-head punditocracy on the cable news channels. Especially during the political hot season, it's fun flipping between stations).

Still and all, I remain a print guy, forever in love with the look and feel (and DEPTH) of newspapers and magazines.

So will the "electronic newspaper," a lightweight plastic screen being unveiled today by Plastic Logic, find a place in the hearts and minds - and homes - of those who love newspapers?


"The size of a piece of copier paper, it can be continually updated via a wireless link, and can store and display hundreds of pages of newspapers, books, and documents," according to a story in yesterday's Boston Globe.

The reader will go on sale next year, and the price - and information regarding which newspapers will be affiliated with the device - will be announced in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Too early to tell whether this device will succeed or fail. But if it plays a significant role in rescuing a crippled newspaper industry from oblivion … then I'm all for it.

(Of course, the smart newspapers will have to realize - d'oh! - that in order to be able to offer the kind of quality content that will attract readers, regardless of format, newspapers are going to have to immediately cease the practice of throwing away experienced reporters and editors. Stop the bleeding of your talent, publishers, or the sickly body is going to turn into a corpse! A corpse can't generate income for anyone.)

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