ARE there any newspapers willing to move completely online, foregoing the current struggle for a print edition? This is the question journalist Gary Andrews asks, analyzed by Media Guardian's Roy Greenslade.
Local papers, feeling the squeeze in recent months, could find a way to save their product in venturing completely online, but who will be the first to take the plunge? The Independent is considering it, but is facing criticism for abandoning the roots of newspapers.
Andrews asks another important question: what does a paper have to lose by going digital?
There is the matter of paying for it. Monetizing an all-online venture has yet to prove completely successful for newspapers, especially if their content is free. But the newspaper industry is hemorrhaging money trying to save its print edition and provide multi-platform services for its audience, and soon may not be able to produce the physical format.
An online edition, Greenslade says, is surely better than no edition at all. Even though going online would mean the death of newsprint, Greenslade says, "what counts is the journalism, not the platform." As providers of a service, news organizations (no longer just newspapers) have an obligation to the community they serve to keep producing news, no matter the outlet.
The transition to an online-only product is not to be a paroxysm of desperation. It very well may be that newspapers have nowhere else to go but online, but if the move is to be made it must be done with appropriate consideration for the business model and the community it serves.