THE BLOG
07/02/2009 12:55 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Helping to Make the Transition from Newspaper to Internet News Reader

It's clear now. A most compelling characteristic that separates the current generation from past ones is not tattoos or Twitter, it's whether or not you read a daily newspaper. If you're from the WW II, Silent, Boomer or GenX generations, your daily ritual probably includes a cup of joe, a comfortable sit and a morning paper which means, like rabbit-ears TV and the paper-boy, your time is coming to an end. We know this because of the eminent demise of newspapers that newspaper readers keep reading about in their eminently demising newspapers. This is not a self-fulfilling prophecy, it's reality and it bites.

If you grew up with the Internet, you're in the Millennial generational orbit and reading a daily newspaper is simply not on your to-do list. Like your immigrant ancestors, whose American first-born kids shepherded them into a baffling foreign world, you are leading your elders into a mystifying hard-drive world because, well, because you can. Your elders are analog immigrants in a digital land and you're the guide.

Pre-Millennials are currently in a no-fly zone between paper and digitally delivered news which puts ink-based media owners in a tizzy - much like movie-theater owners were when TV came along and they had to figure out how to get people to pay for a product they were getting at home for free. Owners seem to be waiting for some magical tipping point when we will actually pay for Internet news. Here's a headline: We've Tipped! A recent Zogby poll asked people if they had to choose to get their news from just one source, 56 percent said they preferred the Internet while 16 percent would choose a newspaper. That's a tip. Start charging!

Some pre-Mills have seen the writing on the wall, uh, screen, and have tried to adapt, wean themselves off newspapers and go on-line for their news. It's not easy, is it? Some habits get hard-wired into our beings. But the transition away from newspapers is inevitable. Soon enough, some post-Kindle device will come on the market that's lightweight, colorful, larger than a 9.7" screen and smaller than a daily broadsheet paper. Pre-Mills face a difficult decision: start doing Internet news now or wait until you don't have a choice.

When faced with this kind of product choice, we consumers like to look at pros and cons of each offering. Therefore, as a public service, here is a shopping comparison between two competing news products for pre-Mills to consider. . .

NEWSPAPERS: THE PROS

  • Agreeable settings - comfortable chair, scrunched on a couch, laying on a beach, riding a stationary bike, standing in a train or bus
  • Scans easily for stories and ads
  • Reassuring day-starting ritual
  • Head-cover for sudden downpour
  • Flooring for housebreaking puppies
  • Good packing material for breakables
  • Unread sections useful as a drink coaster
  • Good spy cover-up when following somebody
  • Wrapping fish-and-chips - in England
  • Helpful lighting fireplaces
  • Rolled up for fly swatting
  • Useful for clipping coupons, photos and tidbits for refrigerator doors or bulletin boards
  • Cheap party hats, if you know how to fold it

NEWSPAPERS: THE CONS

  • Subscription or newsstand cost - rising
  • Inky fingers - particularly The New York Times
  • Poor broadsheet manageability in the wind
  • Broadsheet fold-ability in tight spaces
  • Piled-up home clutter
  • Never ending waste disposal issue
  • De-forestation
  • Holiday tips for paper-deliverers
  • Invitiation to a burglar if paper delivery is not picked up

INTERNET NEWS: THE PROS

  • Infinitely more content with three-to-seven days of previous days' news
  • Instantaneous updates
  • Links to other places to broaden understanding
  • Video and audio pieces
  • Ease of search for stories and people in the news
  • No waste disposal issues
  • Readability in wind
  • More colorful and better graphics
  • Easy to email articles to others
  • Adjustable font size for easier reading
  • Unlimited access to most all domestic and foreign news
  • Most news content is currently free

INTERNET NEWS: THE CONS

  • Hardware costs - computer, smart phone, hand- held devices
  • Hard to read with small handhelds
  • WiFi accessibility and costs
  • Uncomfortable settings - without a laptop, you have to sit at a desk
  • Device freeze-up
  • Batteriy life, thus time limitations
  • News not available for reading on airplanes

BOTTOM LINE: Your choice, pre-Mills. For breadth and depth of content, Internet delivered news cannot be beat. For ritual dependability, newspapers are very grounding and comforting. Is it time to start making the transition off newspapers to the inevitable Internet?