Forecasts for 2009 are, unsurprisingly, relatively pessimistic for traditional media and more positive for new media developments. But not all commentators were as determined as Jeff Nolan that "if 2008 was bad for newspapers, 2009 will be devastating," and many saw hope in the possibility of changes in content and format.
Newspaper closures, content changes
Both UK and US commentators predicted the demise of regional and local newspapers. Roy Greenslade asserted that: "At least one major regional owner will go under... More, many more local titles will be closed or merged." According to Jeff Nolan, "it is not inconceivable that a major American city will be without a daily newspaper in 2009 and a raft of shutdowns will occur across the newspaper industry."
"Newspapers are going to get more elitist and less elitist," believes Clay Shirky. More elitist means becoming a small, niche publication that can remain an authority, less elitist means to "take all the news pieces we get and have an enormous amount of commentary."
Is online the way forward?
Greenslade's feelings are clear: "online is the future and the future is now." Peter Wilby thinks that print publications are going to change their delivery method. "Some may become web-only publishers, others may move to publishing in print only one or two days a week (probably at weekends). Yet others may cut their print runs and distribution networks and focus almost exclusively on pre-paying subscribers or e-paper editions. Rupert Murdoch's papers will probably stick with traditional publishing patterns, but then switch to something new with bewildering speed." Clay Shirky asserts that "three or four dozen" papers globally will follow the Christian Science Monitor and move online in the next year. Steve Rosenbaum believes that digital delivery will take off, and consumers will more and more often be paying for content delivered online, such as video series and ebooks, as well as newspapers.
Duncan Riley believes that 2009 is going to be the year of the "uber blog", a blog that combines different content streams into one large blog, with one primary top level url, such as the Huffington Post. He explains the reasoning behind the move: "it's easy to sell ads on one blog vs many blogs" due to increased traffic, and it "gives commercial blog operators the ability to broaden their content range outside of a specific niche." He is confident of their success, writing that "the new media uber blogs of 2009 and beyond will offer real substitution of old media like we haven't really seen before, and with lean structures that are best placed to last the recession, could ultimately emerge on top."
People have been predicting the rise of the mobile web for many years now and 2009 is no different. According to Matthew Buckland, "Early trends are telling a story of unbelievable growth, showing previous estimates to be too conservative." John Battelle believes that "2009 will see the year mobility becomes presumptive in every aspect of the web."
According to John Battelle, "Twitter will continue its meteoric rise," if it can integrate search into the service and monetize that integration. Jemima Kiss predicts that "2009 is the year it gets big, and gets integrated." She also assers that "It seems inevitable that blogs will become more 'Twittercentric.'" Rachel Cuncliffe predicts 10 ways in which Twitter will change blog design. She thinks that bloggers will start to add "Tweetbacks" to their blog posts, more bloggers will mix blog posts and tweets into a single column, and blog design may start to be influenced by Twitter themes, rather than just the other way round.