At least. Ask an American newspaper exec a few weeks ago what they thought 2025 would look like, and they’d tell it you it would be much more digital, far less print, and more dependent on reader revenue than advertising. Some of them would have told you they think they had a plan to get there. Others, if they were being candid, would have said they didn’t see the route yet, but they hoped to find one in time.
The COVID-19 crisis has clearly accelerated that timeline — and may have ripped it to shreds altogether, depending on how long the shutdown lasts and how deep the resulting recession gets.
Make no mistake, though: Many of the decisions being made right now and in the next few weeks will be permanent ones. No newspaper that drops print days of publication will ever add them back. Humpty Dumpty won’t put the 20th-century newspaper back together again. There can be no return to status quo ante; the ante was already vanishing.
Will these decisions “save” the local press, as we’re bombarded with stories of systemic, perhaps irreversible failure in North America, the U.K., and Europe? One way or the other, these are now existential decisions that can no longer be avoided or postponed.