Opinion: The future may be online, but many newspapers will slip through the net

As circulations plummet, digital seems the only future for newspapers. But supposed ‘trends’ create a very confused pictureThere’s an awful doubt beginning to infect the media scene as autumn comes. It takes the most commonplace assumption of newspaper life and hangs a great question mark on it. We’re constantly told that newspapers as we know them are in a period of transition, moving to become purely digital papers on the web, on tablets, on mobiles, on gadgets as yet uninvented. There is light at the end of a long tunnel of uncertainty, a vital transition. Yet suppose, just suppose, that there’s not.Readers who read the online runes will recognise some of the doubts involved here: advertisements priced much cheaper than print, because cyberspace is infinite and therefore infinitely available; paywalls that raise useful sums that aren’t quite useful enough; tablet efforts such as Rupert Murdoch’s the Daily, that begin in a blaze of publicity then disappear behind a veil of silence; phone applications that seem hugely promising until you try charging a regular rate for them.

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