The newspaper business is changing. It has to, in a digital world where information is as close as an app on a phone, or a tap on a computer. The question is, how will newspapers make that change? The Syracuse Post-Standard, owned by Advance Newspapers, has made its move, and the change is about to occur.
Newspapers once were king of the news. Then along came radio in the 1920s, and television in the 1940s.
Newspapers adapted and changed in the shadow of those new technologies, but now, perhaps comes the biggest challenge of all -- the internet.
"We are in the middle of a revolution. It's not clear how this revolution is going to come out," says Syracuse University Newhouse school dean emeritus David Rubin. But he also says one thing is clear; newspapers have choices to make.
"Are they going to continue to publish a newspaper? If they do, how many days a week? They all will clearly have a website. If they have a website, what kind of resources will they put into it? Is it behind a paywall? Is it free? Does it supplement what they do in print?" asked Rubin.
Advance Publications, owner of the Syracuse Post-Standard, has decided on a strategy, a new print digital mash-up, that will start next week.
"They've decided that the time to begin to push the generational conversion is now. Other newspaper companies recognize that they are going to have to do it, they just aren't ready to do it now," said Rubin.
Starting Monday, there will be fewer print copies of the Post-Standard, and more emphasis on apps and e-papers and the Syracuse.com website. It was a no brainer according to Post-Standard president Steven Rogers.
"If we remained wedded to print, we might not be around for very long. We needed to follow where are readers and advertisers are going. They're going digital," said Rogers.
Tim Kennedy, heads the Syracuse Media Group, that is shepherding the Post-Standard into a digital first universe.
"For our subscribers, our home delivery subscribers, the big difference they're going to see is that we'll go to a three day home delivery Sunday, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and they'll also have access seven days a week to the e-Post-Standard."
There will also be what Kennedy calls a “quick read” newspaper, a daily physical 16-page paper that will be available at any venue you buy a paper today in Onondaga County -- a curated version of information on Syracuse.com.
"It'll look like a newspaper but have summaries and short snippets of stories," said Kennedy.
So when you wake up Monday, with no more home delivery, your Post-Standard news consumption choices will be: Syracuse.com, either on a desktop or an app, on a phone or tablet; the new quick read publication that can be bought at a newsstand; or for subscribers, the quick read publication you can flip through on a tablet.
"In this world of digital change and explosion of platforms, people can choose to get their news and information anywhere. You can get 140 characters on Twitter, if you want to read a printed newspaper, you can read a printed newspaper. If you want to listen to NPR, you can listen to NPR. The consumer has all those choices. What we're trying to do is provide that news and information on as many of those platforms as we can," said Kennedy.
The fact that there are still going to be print editions somewhere seven days a week, makes Newhouse Journalism chairman Steve Davis wonder if this isn't just paving the way towards a total elimination of the print product.
"There probably is a segue going on here to ease their readers into this new environment, to not just go all digital overnight," said Davis.
Kennedy says consumer and advertiser demand will determine that over time. But ultimately that is secondary.
"We do see the digital world both from an advertiser and consumer perspective as being a place we have to be successful over the next, call it, ten years.”