Several years ago, I waggishly laid odds on what big American city would be the first to lose its daily newspaper. It was 2008. The forecasts were dire: one Business Week writer predicted that one or major American markets will lose their daily newspaper within 18 months. In a series of updates, I rejiggered my odds and cited more dire forecasts, including one that had 85% of American newspapers going out of business by 2011.
None of this has come to pass. I had the Boston Herald at 2-1 odds to close up shop, but four years later, it’s still scrappy, still in business, and still in print. The closest I came was my prediction that The Detroit News would have to close down. It hasn’t, though it only does home delivery two days a week. It still prints a daily newspaper.
If we’ve learned one thing, change is coming to the America newspaper incrementally. The print edition is not being killed outright; it’s being phased out over time. And the first big city daily to take this step is one of my favorite regional papers, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which will be scaling its print edition back to three days a week. I cannot see this as anything but a loss, not only for New Orleans but for American newspapering in general. (Even PCMag thinks so.) Sure, the newspaper industry has to face its digital future, yet the slow demise of the print edition is something only to be mourned.