Future of newspapers: Simon Jenkins says take them on the road

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Former Times editor Simon Jenkins writes in his Guardian column today that live events could be the salvation of newspapers.

Comparing the current state of the embattled newspaper industry to the British retreat at Dunkirk – he wonders how many newspapers will remain to ferry survivors to safety.

Noting the success of the music industry in responding to the challenge of internet piracy by making money from events he writes:

“Local newspapers are quietly dying when they should be staging everything from commercial fairs to sporting events and arts and book festivals. There is money in all of them. Newspapers should not be investing in fancy printing presses but in the ‘long-tail’ economics of live enterprise, with the printed word as a mere core activity.”

However he ends on a more positive note: “British newspapers are stunned and traumatised. The recession has ripped the bottom from their boat. I am sure they will refloat somehow, as they did at the end of the 19th century with the advent of rotary presses and mass readership. There will always be rich men (or rich foundations) to support some of them. Even in their printed form they remain user-friendly products for readers fed up with looking at screens every hour of the day.”

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