The national newspapers clearly have the advantage of being able to provide the constant updates of national and international news. And they will be the ones that will attract the national advertising, which is going to be critical to their success. The metros have more of a challenge to take full advantage of the tablet. Their advertising support has been eroded a great deal by the mergers of department stores, grocery stores, and chains that used to provide much of the display advertising that went into their papers. They also have undergone the most extreme downsizing in recent years, so most now lack the staff required to tackle new projects.
I would definitely expect to see fewer printed newspapers in the next five to ten years. That’s inevitable. If the tablet can generate revenue from advertising anywhere close to what they have in print, that will only hasten this transition. Publishers don’t want it to happen too quickly; they want it to be a gradual transition because they have such a huge investment in their printing plants and distribution networks. But I think they’re all looking forward to the day when they can go all digital. As I’ve always said, this doesn’t mean the death of newspapers. Newspapers are essentially branded, curated packages of news and information. Paper is really just a display medium. The screen on a tablet is also just a display medium.