The introduction of broadcast radio caused some in the newspaper industry to fear that newspapers would soon become a thing of the past. After all, who would read the news when you could just turn on the radio for real-time updates?
Newspapers had even more to fear in 1938 when radio thought it might compete with them in the deadtree business as well.
The May, 1938 issue of Hugo Gernsback‘s Short Wave and Television magazine included an article titled “Radio to Print News Right In Your Home.” The article described a method of delivering newspapers that was being tested and (provided it didn’t interfere with regular radio broadcasts) would soon be used as a futuristic news-delivery method.
—”Print the News, Right In Your Home!” on The Smithsonian’s ‘Paleofuture’ blog
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
“This New Medium is going to kill That Old Medium!”
“Our Old Way Of Doing Things is going to die because This New Way Of Doing Things just took over!”
As you all well know, Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion after 18 months of existence, while The New York Times is reportedly worth a meager (by comparison) $976 million, after being around for 116 years.
Is something wrong with that?
Nope. Fortunately or unfortunately, that’s just the way it works. And if you take another look at the quote above you’ll notice two things:
- It was written in 1938.
- Newspapers were scared of going extinct because radio was making it easier for current readers to consume information.
Newspapers! Radio! Two things that still exist! In 2012! 74 years later!
Despite so many changes in both of those industries, those mediums are still around. Yes, their format of delivery might be in a constant state of change right now, but that doesn’t mean people don’t still want consistent news, information and entertainment.
I read The New York Times on my iPad every morning.
I listen in on NPR.org almost every day.
I would hate it if newspapers or radio went extinct.
The iPad and my laptop represent two means of delivery that people in those industries could have barely even dreamed of in 1938. And if they could have dreamed them up, I would be surprised if they didn’t jump at the chance to try and turn them into a reality right away. In fact, that’s what the “printable newspaper” above represents: It’s an archaic way of viewing the way the reader get their news.
You don’t have to go to it; it comes to you.
Industries are disrupted every day, it seems, with a new player that “fundamentally changes” the way that business is done. Some companies play the game, and others—even some of our favorites—decide they don’t want to, and they die. That’s life.
Progress is inevitable. Our acceptance of it isn’t.
Information is information is information, regardless of the medium or format of delivery.
You should play along.