As newspapers seem to drop into financial abyss week after week across the United States, we all share the emergency that journalism will lose some of its most effective vehicles for keeping the nation well informed. For those that do not care, think again. A vanished press means more undiscovered corruption, less understood societal trends, the diminishment of community bonds and the unweaving of an intelligent population, to name just a few consequences. News flash…economics is killing America's once vibrant and diversified print media. Newsroom and freelance staff cuts, smaller editions, closed bureaus, mass layoffs and shuttered papers are cascading into an information disaster. Newspapers still, and will always, play a crucial role in preserving our democracy, but they are a threatened species. Update: There is a simple solution.
There are many unique, ground-breaking and complex answers currently under consideration to solve this issue, and a whole host of reasons why each solution may or may not be economically feasible. But with all the fears of a vanishing press, it's time to focus on the positive…what well-established technology can do to fix an increasing print media void.
There is one exciting, but simple, opportunity that deserves serious exploration…your newspaper can be delivered via PDF document, to your computer, at any time of the day regardless of the user's operating system, hardware or even software.
Take, for example, what you can see right now on Guardian.co.uk. Three British newspapers, The Guardian, The Guardian Limited and The Observer offer an on-line delivery model (for off-line reading) which has not yet caught on in America, but perhaps it should. By giving you the opportunity to print, on 8.5 x 11 paper, color or black and white copies of newspaper content (full articles, pictures, pictures and ads), you choose what you want to publish and how. The G24 selection on the Guardian site includes the latest news stories, business reports, sports features and media articles. Each section is several pages long, prints out with quality, and can be taken anywhere to read, with or without a computer, and at your leisure and comfort.
With PDF (portable document format) delivery, expenses can be slashed. No longer would the traditional newspaper require trucks and drivers, insurance for vehicles, fuel for transport, huge quantities of ink and tons of newsprint. Readers can down load their daily papers at home, or at the office. Businesses can still sell papers, but produce them on site for their customers. The carbon footprint of the traditional newspaper can be significantly reduced with this inexpensive process. What's more, papers can still charge for subscriptions while employing targeted advertising for maximum customer impact and revenues. PDF delivery is an obvious approach to attack the exponentially increasing budgetary demands newspaper publishers face every day and which gone unchecked, may result in cities and towns without their traditional local paper.
G24 is nothing less than revolutionary, yet surprisingly simple, and based upon the the universally accepted open source PDF format which was first developed in 1993 by Adobe. It's an old, but obvious, tool to tackle a new problem. Put another way, the newspaper is using high quality color desktop publishing to give you a customized newspaper you can assemble in mere seconds, and delivered to your printer when you want, and as much as you wish. The content can be updated several times a day.
The United Kingdom is not alone in using PDF as a low-cost but creative news content delivery system. According to MediaLifeMagazine.com, PDF has been used to deliver news content in Canada by the Toronto Star. Makes you wonder, why not here? Imagine the New York Times or your local paper delivered in this format. No more large and unwieldy news print to turn or fumble with.
If reporter positions and responsible editorial content can be preserved because outdated delivery overhead and expenses can be eliminated, the news gathering process will be less threatened and has a better chance to thrive. The Internet, rather than being an enemy of the press can be facilitated by a Web 3.0 that serves to preserve your local Herald, Gazette, or Times Union. As editors and publishers seek the to frame the architecture of future newspapers, PDF delivery is a worthy area for implementation in an effort to save the American newspaper.