The American newspaper dream is dying with readers moving to the Internet. The old clichéd picture in American movies of Dad picking up the paper from the front lawn in his dressing gown with his cup of coffee is no more.
America's richest man Warren Buffet stated in a recent Wall Street Journal
article: “For most newspapers in the United States, we would not buy them at any price.” This was said in response to a question about whether he would consider investing in newspapers.
“They have the possibility of going to just unending losses,” he added.Get news onlineTime
magazine reports that Internet users are ditching newspaper subscriptions because they can get their news online, citing a recent study by the University of Southern California, which found that 22% of Internet users cancelled a print subscription in favour of reading the same news online.
The well-known Boston Globe
almost shut down last month and was saved after the newspaper reached a deal with six unions to keep the paper going.
Less readership leads to less advertising revenue and the downward spiral continues. With online being free, it hasn't helped newspapers causes either - probably one of the reasons media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced recently that news corp. papers such as the Wall Street Journal
, the New York Post
, The Times of London
, The Sun
and The Australian
will be charging for content within the next 12 months.
In South Africa, things are different. The country has a number of large media houses and while magazines are closing down left, right, and centre, the high profile shutting down of ThisDay
a few years back remains one of the few big losses to the newspaper industry.Is there less chance?
Furthermore, the Internet is nowhere near as prevalent here as in the US. So there is less chance of people going online for something instead of reading it in print.
Or is there?
The mobile web is just as pervasive in South Africa as the Internet is in the States and all of the major media houses have mobile websites (mobisites). The truth is that South Africans don't even have to get out of bed to read the news, check the weather or read the latest movie reviews - they can do it all on their mobile phones.
The typical Joe Bloggs can begin his morning read by surfing a number of mobisites including News24 (http://m.24.com
), the Independent Group's IOL Mobile (http://m.iol.co.za
), the Mail & Guardian
's mobisite (http://m.mg.co.za
) or Avusa's The Times
). [Don't forget Bizcommunity.com's own mobisite http://m.bizcommunity.com - assistant editor
He can then have a taste of international news by reading Sky News (http://pda.sky.com/news
), CNN (http://cnnmobile.com
) or some more in-depth reporting from Time
Moving on to sport, Supersport has a great mobisite which Joe can visit using the http://supersport.co.za
URL from his phone. Then there is Cric Info (http://cricinfo.mobi
) which provides some great cricket reporting, and Joe can check out the latest news on the English premiership from Sky Sports (http://pda.skysports.com
) - or if Joe is more of a fan of American sports, then ESPN (http://m.espn.go.com
) is the place to visit.
Joe might then decide that he would like an in-depth sports read, so he'll check out the M&G
's Sports Leader (http://m.sportsleader.co.za
), which could also take him into technology with Tech leader (http://m.techleader.co.za
) or mainstream blogging with Thought Leader (http://m.thoughleader.co.za
Maybe it's the weekend and he wants to take a look at what is in store for him from an entertainment side. Joe can then simply log on to The Guide (http://m.theguide.co.za
) and read movie reviews, after which he may decide to book a movie, which he can do at either Sterkinekor (http://mobile.sterkinekor.com
) or NuMetro's mobile site (www.numetro.co.za
) from his phone.
Seeing as Joe would like to have a meal after his movie, he can hop onto IOL and Dining Out's mobile restaurant guide (www.dining-out.co.za/m/
) and find a restaurant that appeals to him. He can simply save the restaurant's number on his phone to call them later in the day to make his booking.Weather
And, seeing as he's booked to stay in the Drakensberg for a holiday that next weekend, he can log on to www.weather.co.za
from his mobile phone (which will redirect him to the mobile site) and get seven day forecasts.
These are just some of the sites available to mobile phone users locally. One of the great things is that most of them, even the international sites, load faster than many websites do online.
And the best part is they can be read from anywhere at any time. Given how quickly the mobile web is rising to the fore, it is going to be very interesting to see how media houses integrate mobisites into their overall strategy.