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Don’t Print Me

Where do you get your news from?

Chances are there’s a variety of news sources on your radar, but soon newspapers might not be one of them.

It’s probably about as good a time to start a newspaper as it is to get into pay phones or vhs shops, but that didn’t stop the Independent launching the “I” this year and being the only mashed up tree to see its circulation increase when the last lot of figures came out (thanks to being a:good, b:cheap and c:tv advertised).

Figures for newspaper readership look fairly robust, until you think about where they used to be and where they are going.

Just under 10 million daily newspapers are sold in 2011, but between 2007 and 2009 the number fell by 25% – only the US saw a worse decline.

This month the Guardian announced the online version was now their main priority – ahead of the print edition. Like everyone else they see the decline in newspaper sales as inevitable.

No wonder. About 262,000 readers buy their print version, down 12.5% on last year, whilst 2.4million unique viewers visit their website.

The web’s reach is everywhere. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2010, 30.1 million UK adults accessed the net everyday. Almost double the figure in 2006.

73% of households had got the internet. 43% of users had experienced some form of social networking.

You can bet the next time these figures are totted up, they’ll be higher. BBC Online gets more visitors per day than all newspaper sales put together and is incredibly popular at times of great national significance – witness 40,000 page requests a second on 7/7. Meanwhile, every advance in mobile technology seems to chip away at the future of the newspaper.

And yet, there’s a lot to be said for settling down with a good bit of newsprint. A paper doesn’t take an age to open. It doesn’t disappear in front of your eyes or refuse to turn its page, can usually be counted on to be accurate and it’s not that hard to find.

Perhaps the newspaper will ultimately skip off into a retro future. Harking back to a more traditional era, when people would listen to vinyl or could afford petrol.

It’ll be a sad time, but we’ll tweet, post and read about it online to comfort ourselves.