By Steve Outing
Q. “Will the New York Times have a paper edition in fifty years, or will it likely be entirely web-based and digital by that time?”
A. “Fifty years into the future? That’s the province of novelists, not editors. (Neal Stephenson! William Gibson! White courtesy teleport, please!) Will readers carry portable electronic tablets containing the Sunday NYT? Will we have foldable sheets of composite material that broadcast the news in electronic ink? Will we get our news beamed to us through cerebral implants? And will there be cults of newsprint enthusiasts who pay a premium for the retro pleasure of ink on paper, the way some audiophiles today insist on vinyl records? Heck, I don’t know.”
I’ve made my career the last decade-plus peering into the murky future, so I’ll take a stab at that. 50 years? I just can’t imagine that print editions of newspapers will last that long. For magazines, perhaps print editions will remain, but only as luxuries for the few willing to pay a premium for that format. For newspapers (at least in industrialized countries), they’ll be historical artifact by then.
Will there be a NY Times? Oh, yeah. It’s only the distribution mechanism that will die in that timeframe.