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USC Annenberg Predicts Death of Newspapers, but The Florida Times-Union Remains Bullish on Print's Future

2:53 PM, Dec 16, 2011   |    comments
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  • The Florida Times-Union newsroom.
  • Florida Times-Union Editor Frank Denton remains bullish about the newspaper's future.
    

USC Annenberg's Center for the Digital Future predicts most print newspapers will be gone in five years, adding it's likely only four major dailies will continue in print form: The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

But Florida Times-Union Editor Frank Denton says not so fast.   He said while circulation is down "significantly," the Times-Union remains profitable and has fully embraced the shift to digital.

"You know, what we've done, we've controlled our expenses. But mostly what we have done is something called digital first.  We have a fully converged newsroom so that most of our journalists work across media.  We're staffed 24/7, we cover news around the clock," said Denton.

The paper has gone through several rounds of layoffs, including the elimination of 39 positions in September, which reduced the T-U's workforce by 9.5 percent.  Currently the newsroom has a staff of 85 journalists, said Denton.

Denton said the paper is now well positioned, pointing out its website - Jacksonville.com -- has grown between 10 and 20 percent over the previous year and its mobile products are going "gangbusters." 

USC Annenberg also predicts PC sales will plummet to just 4-6 percent of the market, with tablets becoming the primary tool for personal computing.  Denton said the paper is preparing for the migration with the launch of an iPad tablet edition on or about January 10th.

Denton said a final decision hasn't been reached on whether the tablet version will be free or subscription based, but added professional journalism is expensive to produce.

"As a commodity it is very important to our community, to our democracy and to people's lives. And ultimately if it's going to be any good and if it's going to be free and independent, it can't be free."

And one final prediction from Denton: You'll still be able to pick up a print edition of the Times-Union a decade from now.

First Coast News

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