We’ve covered the impending demise of print journalism, accepting the digitization of media as an inevitable facet of the future. And it likely is. But as Nicholas Fitzgerald points out, we’re not the first generation to make this claim. The reporters in the 1981 television clip below would probably have been surprised to hear that the San Francisco Examiner would still be hitting doorsteps in 2009—they thought the dominance of digital communication was only “a few years off.”
It’s easy to say that tomorrow will be a brave, new world. It’s harder to recognize that change happens gradually, and that early adopters sometimes have to wait decades for the promise (and profits) of new technology to become reality. That gradual change explains why some companies have been blindsided by falling newspaper profits. By looking at the trajectory of their past, instead of focusing solely on the latest and greatest upgrade, companies will be in a better position to prepare stronger business models well-suited for the future.