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February 26, 2015

Not a good night to news — a new morning

Red BoltLast week on this day we announced we're going all-digital with HP 3000 news. So what follows here is not a good night to publishing, but a good morning. Early each day I trek to my Mac and open a digital version of our Austin newspaper. We make coffees and print out the day’s crossword and number puzzles, using the digital American-Statesman. Abby I write on these two pieces of paper, front and back, because it’s the classic way to solve puzzles. But the rest of the day’s news and features arrive digitally. We can even follow our beloved Spurs with a digital version of the San Antonio paper, scanning an app from our iPads.

We discovered that we don’t miss the big, folded pages that landed on our driveway, the often-unread broadsheets that piled up under the coffee table. I hope you won’t miss those mailed pages of ours too much. Paper is holding its own in the book publishing world, yes. The latest numbers show 635 million printed books sold in 2014, a slim 2 percent rise over 2013.

But this is the news, periodical pages whose mailed delivery period is usually measured in days. A tour of publications that quit print in the past year or two is in order. We start with the most recent retirement, Macworld. Its final print issue mailed last fall — now all-digital. It sells what it is calling “digitally-remastered” articles, something aimed at iPad readers. The subscription cost has even increased.

How about some venerable newsweeklies, like US News & World Report and Newsweek? Both still serve stories from lively websites. Their stalwart competitor Time still sits on waiting room tables and newsstands, though. But just 48 pages of print is the norm for that weekly.

Some publications in our own 3000 world pulled their plug too early, or too late, to deliver a digital generation.

In our world, Interact magazine and its cousin HP World stayed too long at the fair and collapsed along with the user group Interex. HP Professional, HP Omni, HP User — all made their exit before digital rose up as a vibrant publishing outlet. PC World evolved to digital in 2013, after printing 750,000 copies a month in 2006. That’s a lot of pulped trees being sacrificed for the needs of that publication’s advertisers.

The advertisers, our sponsors, made the NewsWire a success. We began our ongoing journey with the ideal of making subscriptions the biggest part of our business model. But the printed trade journals of the 1990s made short work of that idea. Readers were avid, yes, but unwilling to pay in great numbers.

Sponsors like ours stepped up to tap that readership with support for our pages, whether in print or on the Web. There have been more than 210 companies who have made our 8 million printed pages possible, so far. Our final printed issue, Winter 2015, has pages sponsored by the most stalwart and steady. Others are already all-digital sponsors. Some support us simply to ensure the 3000 has a digital outpost.

More than 19 years of printing and mailing pages is what your community and all those sponsors enabled. There are digital editions in our future and yours. The community continues to require the vantage point of a publication, a place to discover stories about themselves.

Some stout espresso and sharp pencils start most days around my house. Finding what’s new, and chronicling it in a story, remains fun and useful creation. The early morning's spark and the durable magic of email, plus the Web, helped us create the NewsWire’s print. Now it’s our time to spark the rest of our ride using our digital bolt.

09:21 PM in Newsmakers | Permalink

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