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Continuing our series of conversations between fellow-futurist Gerd Leonhard of The Futures Agency and myself, here is our session on the future of newspapers.

Here are a few notes from our conversation:

* When I released my Newspaper Extinction Timeline, chronicling when newspapers would become irrelevant in each country around the world, it received a heated response.
* Are we interested in news, or in paper?
* We are now able to get rid of the printing and physical distribution, which can be up to 80% of the costs of creating newspapers and magazines, with significant environmental benefitsl
* The newspaper industry may not die but it certainly won’t grow, but the news business can and probably will grow.
* The future of “news-on-paper” is not nearly as interesting as the future of news – this is a far richer subject in terms of distribution, the role of journalists, the filtering of news and so on.
* A key issue is how similar or individual to others is the news we get.
* The far broader participation in content creation and resulting flood of content means we need professional editing and filtering.
* Print has been largely paid for by third-parties – advertisers – and that ecosystem has not fully developed in the online world.
* The long tail makes the overall market larger by accessing new markets that were not feasible before.
* Scaling costs commensurate with revenues in smaller markets brings out the potential for publishers to create multi-niche strategies.
* People need to see value before paying – for example in curation in specific sectors such as finance.
* Aggregators such as Flipboard could become a sector as big as cable TV.
* Murdoch’s iPad venture The Daily brings out the issue of whether people truly want a single editorial/ curation perspective, or rather multiple perspectives.
* Aggregation is a dirty word in the media industry, yet it is where much of the value resides to the consumer.
* The future is in ecosystems rather than ‘egosystems’ that are focused on an individual news system. There will still be egosystems, but far fewer than before.
* The transition to a new and undefined ecosystem is painful and challenging, but people want news and often are prepared to pay for it in various forms.

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Ross Dawson is globally recognized as a leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, strategy advisor, and bestselling author. He is Founding Chairman of AHT Group, which consists of 3 companies: consulting, publishing, and ventures firm Advanced Human Technologies, future and strategy firm Future Exploration Network, and events company The Insight Exchange.

Ross is author most recently of Getting Results From Crowds, the prescient Living Networks, which anticipated the social network revolution, the Amazon.com bestseller Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, and Implementing Enterprise 2.0. (click on the links for free chapter downloads). He is based in Sydney and San Francisco with his wife jewellery designer Victoria Buckley and two beautiful young daughters.

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