And she believes that half of the UK’s 1,300 local newspapers will close between now and 2013 – destroying 20,000 media jobs.
Does she see any positives Kirwan asks? ‘No. Like fax machines and CD players, local newspapers and commercial radio are victims of change. These are long-term economic cycles.”
Enders criticises Guardian Media Group, Trinity Mirror and News International for spending hundreds of millions on new printing presses in recent years.
She says: ‘Being tied down to fixed-cost equipment and fixed-cost staffing in an era where they cannot predict sales is crazy.”
Enders says the removal of much government advertising from local newspapers since 2004 has accelerated their decline – despite warning that this would be the case.
“The government believes the local press is read by people, middle-aged and older, who live local lives. They are not relevant to the government’s view of itself.
“Instead of helping local media to stay alive longer, the effect of government action has been to push them over the edge faster. We’re talking about a fourth estate that is facing the future with much fewer resources. The resources on the government side are overwhelming.”
One big question raised by the Enders interview is which half of the 1,300 does she think will go? Only about one third of the 1,300 are paid-for dailies and weeklies – the rest are freesheets which as a rule are less meaty journalistically.
So far most of the 50 or so local newspapers to have been closed in the UK as a result of the current downturn have been of the free rather than paid-for variety.
It’s a headline-grabbing prediction – and a useful warning to us all of the dangers we face. But anyone who has been around in the media for the last few years will know, it is impossible to predict the future of our industry.
The future of journalism is not written in stone – but is being written now by the current generation of journalists.
Predictions like this one by Enders will make many journalists even more keen to bail out of the profession. But our future is in our own hands – and as I noted in a blog post on Friday, there are encouraging signs in the US that a DIY approach to ultra-local journalism is beginning to look viable.