Murdoch: newspapers will survive, but physical format irrelevant

News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch delivered the annual Boyer Lecture on Australia’s ABC Sunday, and while he was positive on the future for newspapers, it’s what he had to say about print editions which makes the talk interesting.

In “The Future of Newspapers: Moving Beyond Dead Trees,” Murdoch said that doomsayers who are predicting the Internet will kill off newspapers are “misguided cynics” who fail to grasp that the online world is potentially a huge new market of information-hungry consumers.

Newspapers are already a “source that people can trust,” Murdoch said, giving them an advantage over new mediums such as bloggers reports The Editors Weblog.

The key line though is Murdoch’s admission that the days of the print edition of newspapers are numbered.

“We are moving from news papers to news brands,” he said, and added that while the form of delivery may change, “the potential audience for our content will multiply many times over”.

Mr Murdoch summed it up by saying: “I like the look and feel of newsprint as much as anyone. But our real business isn’t printing on dead trees. It’s giving our readers great journalism and great judgement.”

Murdoch is right: smart newspapers today will become smart online “news brands” of tomorrow. While many are quick to write off newspapers altogether, there is still no reasonable argument I have seen that says that some newspapers can’t turn into online only news sites. The only thing we could argue about is using the term “newspaper” altogether when the last newspaper printing press in the western world prints its last edition, but for all intents and purposes this is semantics based on format, not the actual news producing body.