Video: This May Be the Moment Print Journalism Died

The poor ink-stained wretches have no idea what’s about to hit them.   That’s the takeaway one gets from the video below — a 1981 KRON news report that documents the beginning of a radical new service: electronic newspapers!   "Imagine if you will sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your computer to […]

Last Updated: August 26, 2009 @ 10:05 PM

The poor ink-stained wretches have no idea what’s about to hit them.

 

That’s the takeaway one gets from the video below — a 1981 KRON news report that documents the beginning of a radical new service: electronic newspapers!

 

"Imagine if you will sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your computer to read the day’s news," the anchor muses. "Well, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem."

 

Well, since the article you’re reading will live only on a computer screen (or cell phone or iPhone), no, it wasn’t a far-fetched idea.

 

But for print journalists battered by the industry’s Internet-fueled decline, this video feels very much like a horror movie.

 

The report shows how executives at the two major San Francisco dailies (yes, Virginia, time was when cities often had two or even three newspapers) gladly invested big bucks in the computer technology — convinced it would be a boon to readership.

 

Little did they realize they were creating a business model — free news via computer — that would ultimately lead newspapers as we’ve known them to teeter on the brink of extinction.

 

David Cole, an editor at the San Francisco Examiner, utters words that, sadly turned out to be at least half right.

 

"We’re not in it to make money," he said of the electronic paper. "We’re probably not going to lose a lot, but we’re not going to make much, either."

 

Thanks to Steve Kern for finding the video: