Last month I made 10 predictions for the future of publishing in 2009. Periodically I will post follow up information on how I am doing.
In prediction #2 I said that in 2009, half of all local newspapers will go out of business. The other half will be swept up into conglomerate organizations modeled after Clear Channel, the ubiquitous radio station programming company.
Clear Channel buys up local radio stations in small markets and then operates them remotely. The content is programmed from afar and there is minimal staff kept on within the local markets. This gives Clear Channel an enormous amount of power within small markets because they frequently control the main radio stations and can orchestrate their content through smaller markets all across the country. Imagine that newspapers start to take on this same model.
Editor & Publisher is now reporting that five Northeast newspapers have formed a consortium where they will share content. They are working out a system where they will swap coverage of news, sharing it electronically with each other on a daily basis. The newspapers are: The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.; The Record of Hackensack, N.J.; the Times Union in Albany, N.Y.; The Buffalo (N.Y.) News; and the Daily News of New York. The obvious next step, once this seems to be working, is to start eliminating redundancies within the five papers.
If this conglomerate works many other papers will be looking to follow suit. If AP, Reuters and other big reporting agencies can spread their stories across the media spectrum, then why can't the distributors, the papers themselves, team up to do the same?