Newspapers will evolve, but they won’t expire

It’s common knowledge that newspapers are in trouble. Knight Ridder Co. and the Tribune Co., both major newspaper producers, have been sold and are for sale, respectively. Readership continues to dwindle for print newspapers across the country. Even the New York Times has cut back on operations.

However, it has never been this editorial board’s opinion that newspapers are dying. They will evolve, certainly, and the Tampa Tribune or St. Petersburg Times delivered to Bay area residents probably won’t look the same or even be made of the same materials in just a few years. How newspapers deliver news will continue to grow and change. Just as electronic books will never replace printed ones, so it is with newspapers – the Internet will never replace them.

In fact, many Internet companies seem to realize that print newspapers aren’t their competition – print newspapers and news websites seem to have more of a symbiotic relationship than a competitive one. Some Internet companies have even offered a helping hand to the struggling newspapers.

In fact, seven major newspaper companies that collectively produce over 150 daily newspapers in 38 states have teamed up with Yahoo in order to “turn online advertising into a lucrative opportunity (for newspapers) instead of a dire financial threat,” according to Forbes.

Yahoo isn’t doing this because it’s altruistic, of course. Yahoo wants to beat Google, and helping newspapers make money will make Yahoo money as well. Google currently has the largest online advertising network on the Web, but it, too, is courting the newspaper business. It recently started an “experiment” to “help sell print advertising for 50 of the nation’s largest newspapers.”

Brian Schachter, an analyst with the Swiss investment bank, UBS, told Reuters that, “The bottom line is that these newspaper companies have decided to answer the ‘friend or foe’ question that all traditional media companies face regarding online players. They have decided it is better to be friends with Yahoo.”

It is developments such as these that make the view that newspapers are “dying” a shortsighted one. Newspapers may have lost their novelty to the Internet for a time, but that won’t last forever. In fact, the recent hardships are teaching newspaper companies a valuable lesson: newspapers may be an institution, but that’s no excuse for a lack of innovation. With major newspaper companies teaming up with former enemies Google and Yahoo, the future of newspapers looks more promising all the time.