The past, present and future of print | Our Corner

One of the fun things about The Courier-Herald office for me these day is sitting around Scott Gray’s office being old and whiny.

We are at that perfect age for men, where we get to be as whiny as we want and right about everything. I think we have a card somewhere in our wallets that give us those inalienable  rights to be right.

The only problem Scott has is he has less hair than I do.

Recently we have been having some interesting discussions about newspapers – tossing around ideas about how newspapers work, what we would like to do with papers and what the future of the publishing and print business will look like.

Admittedly, locking the two of us in a room and letting us peer into a crystal ball is dangerous to the universe as we know it, but fun is fun.

I often hear folks make statements about the current health and happiness of newspapers. They have likely read the information in a newspaper or online. Most of what I hear cited either is simply not true or is outright misinformation.

Scott and I have been around enough to remember many predictions about the future of all sorts of things.

One I remember best is a guy telling my dad in the 1950s how films would be a thing of the past because of television and in a few years no one would go to see a movie. I think he was selling my dad a TV.

Yeah, that was a good prediction. Knowing my dad though, he probably bought the TV. He loved all the new stuff. I remember we had one of the first TVs that you could push a button and the channel changer would spin around to find the channel. It was a Zenith.

The next time you hear someone say newspapers are gone or dead or something like that, ask them how many newspapers Warren Buffett has purchased in the last year or so. (The answer is a bucket full.)

There could be many explanations. Maybe Warren needs to check into an AARP home for investors, or maybe he is seeing a different future.

I don’t know what he is thinking or what the future holds for newspapers. I try to never make predictions. My crystal ball is foggy. I must not have paid my futures bill.

I suspect there is more complexity than we can imagine for print, Internet and publishing in general including books, newspapers and magazines.

Printing and communicating has been around for thousands of years – from cave paintings, to printing characters on vellum under candlelight to Gutenberg to the Internet explosion.

We have been compelled to write our thoughts and experiences down for a centuries, at times at the cost of the writer’s life. It must express a core essence of who we are.

The desire or need to write, express and publish has not changed, but the form that will take is likely to surprise us all.