IFLA Newspaper Conference: Ed King - British Library

Ed is giving a general overview of the state of newspaper publishing in the UK. It seems that growth is being seen in regional papers, often with news becoming less and less important. The free Metro London, with many different editions published throughout the day, is very highly circulated. The Sunday papers are showing a decrease in circulation, only single digits, but it’s more and more common. Those so-called “quality” Sundays that have changed formats or used some other gimmick have seen some increases. In general, it seems that the papers are fearful for their future in print.

There have been rises in the online UK newspapers, like the Guardian. However, there are hundreds of regional newspapers, and Ed mentions that they it is surprising that they have not been slow to uptake on web-based publishing. The BBC is the big one overall. It gets 1.5 million hits per day, and is often the default news source for Britons.

Ed sees editing as the big purpose of modern newspapers. Newspapers are different than blogs because the latter is raw, whereas the newspapers are fact-checked. This mirrors what Jim Wall said earlier, that reliable sources will drive the trust in the publication. Ed calls it “thought-through” journalism.

There’s a noted difference in how different news providers are allowing access their archives. The New York Times, for example, requires payment for access to their most popular archived articles. Others, like the Los Angeles Times have opened up their access, assuming more access drives more advertising revenue.

So where is the future going? There’s a quote from Rupert Murdoch discussing the always important role of “great journalism.” Further, he mentions Bill Gate’s major drive towards tablets as a personal information source. Somebody in the audience mentioned that tablets are already becoming a common standardized commodity within many libraries, but despite the increasing digitization, there is a future in print. I’m surprised to learn that print readership is actually up in India, which is a fairly technocentric society. Or maybe that growth is occurring on the non-technical fringe?

The Brithish Library is working on digitizing some newspapers. The Penny Illustrated Paper from 1860-1918 was the proof-of-concept for about 50,000 pages. After that prototype, they have started work on the British Newspaper Project, digitizing 2 million newspaper pages from 1800-1900. They seem to be approaching things similar to NDNP, digitizing form microfilm, etc. And again, similar to NDNP, an existing collection of newspapers - the Burnery Collection of Newspapers - is about to begin the process of digitization.