In a recent issue of BusinessWeek, an article titled “The Future of the New York Times” states that the paper is having difficulty obtaining more readers of the hard-copy edition but is seeing a surge in its online subscriptions. This is a trend many other newspapers are starting to follow to obtain a younger readership.

A survey conducted by the Newspaper Association of America and presented at its conference in 2003 presented a dim outlook on the future of all home-delivered newspapers in multiple markets. What is interesting about the survey is that the age group with the highest readership loss is the college graduate and those between the age of 25 and 34, the group many of us will be entering soon. I feel that the negative trend will continue due to the proliferation of multiple free online news sources built by traditional hard-copy papers, online periodicals and web logs.

In a panel discussion conducted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 2003, Tony Ridder, of the Knight Ridder that owns The Miami Herald, stated that less and less people read the newspaper with each generation. I would agree with that statement, mainly because those born into the current generations X and Y, 1965-present, do not obtain their information from only one hard-copy news source and are the two generations that have grown accustomed to the PC and the internet playing a large role in their lives both in their homes and in education. The world is too vast, interests too varied, and the availability of unlimited information will prevent hard-copy dominance in their markets.

I currently subscribe to multiple foreign and domestic hard-copy newspapers but receive only the online editions. The only time I read a hard-copy newspaper is in the Wellness Center or if I find a section lying around somewhere on campus. The only hard-copy newspaper I read weekly is the Miami New Times because I hate looking through the website for restaurants to visit over the weekend and enjoy the cartoons. All of the paper’s content is available online except for the cartoons.

We have entered a new information age and the hard-copy newspaper will become extinct in our lifetime. The major problem that newspapers will face in the future is the debate over free or fee-based content for online readers. The New York Times is doing well with regards to earnings from the paper’s fee-based articles. Though the hard copy is lagging in sales the online edition is outpacing the rest of the paper’s competitors. The future looks bright for these companies. but not through traditional means.

Vontilla Steven can be contacted at