Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Craig Newmark, founder of the seminal classified website Craigslist, weighed in this week with their thoughts on the future of reading and newspapers. These enemies of hard copy were clearly in their print is dead mode.
This years annual convention of The Newspaper Association of America featured Newmark being interviewed by Charlie Rose. A controversial choice to say the least since Newmark's brainchild Craiglist has single-handedly destroyed the classified advertising revenue stream that has fed newspapers for decades.
He spoke of the need for newspapers to use their high profit margins to pay more attention to investigative journalism and reiterated his belief that Craigslist has nothing to do with the death of newspapers mantra that is being sung across the country.
But then he says that he has a "great deal of sympathy for people who run the printing presses. They are screwed"
"It's not that journalism is becoming obsolete; rather the delivery methods are changing."
So basically newspapers are dead.
While over at the umpteenth Microsoft Strategic Account Summit in Seattle Bill Gates proclaimed that "reading is going completely online." Regarding the printed page vs. the screen battle Gates believes that as soon as the reading machine is perfected the reading of newspapers and magazines will go completely online. Gates sees that happening in the next five years.
And why is reading online better? Because "it's up to date, you can navigate, you can follow links."
In other words it becomes more like a BLOG!
Luckily for us book types these proclamations are focused on magazines and newspapers. I trust Bill knows that the book isn't going anywhere.
Editor & Publisher story on Newmark.
Todd Bishop's coverage of Gates at the Summit on his Microsoft blog at the Seattle PI . Don't miss the comments to the post, they are worth every minute.