ROGER FIDLER IS A FOREFATHER of digital journalism. In the early 1980s, he wrote and illustrated an essay on the future of news. When Fidler presented his ideas around Knight Ridder, his co-workers sometimes laughed. “It was not quite like Roger had descended from another planet,” a colleague of his once told me, “but he was saying some things that were simply very hard to believe at the time.”
IN FIDLES’S VISION OF THE FUTURE, news and information were headed to the nascent internet, where stories would be instantly published from one computer to millions more. A tablet, he thought, was the perfect device to replace paper. The idea he spoke of most was one Steve Jobs would have many years later—a tablet on which to read electronic newspapers. But… four decades have passed since and Fidler still subscribes to the print editions of The New York Times, the Columbia Daily Tribune and the Columbia Missourian. “I have been wondering,” Fidler says, “whether we have completely underestimated the viability and usefulness of the print product.” That all changed in just 7 days with the arrival of Coronavirus that forced Las Vegas Strip to shut down for the first time since JFK assassination in 1963.
BEING ONLINE HAS PROBABLY NEVER BEEN SO LOCAL AS IT IS NOW. These days of global pandemic show that we need the local media more than ever. People who are unexpectedly forced to stay at home, search for information about what is going on around even more eagerly. When printed press cannot reach them, they are left to stay with the online content.
PRINT IS DEAD. LONG LIVE PRINT. May it all be over as fast as possible and turn in just a bad memory and let us all sit on the porch, in our favorite chair, with the one-perfect coffee mug in our hand and spread our beloved daily press on our knees. But for now... Can anyone tell how long it will last?
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