Hold the presses – and be irrelevant   1/12/2012

Would-be totalitarians who’d like to put a political stranglehold on the press ignore the bleeding obvious.
Hugo Rifkind from The Times doesn’t.

And yet here we are, still basically bickering over whether a judge, a politician or somebody else ought to decide if the Daily Star should stick its apologies on the first page or the third. It’s nuts. In fact, it’s worse, than nuts. It’s ignorant. Because all this might make sense, just about, if websites could still, properly, be regarded as the appendices of whatever form of media they are websites for. Whereas, in fact, they are increasingly the main deal.
Pretty much every newspaper loses 5-10 per cent of its print readership pretty much every year. Nobody expects this slide to halt, nor is there any reason why it should. But these readers do not simply evaporate. They go online. Vast numbers already have. More people pay to read this newspaper on an iPad than pay to read The Independent at all. Regardless of who leads the way — some think The Independent, others The Guardian — there will come a time soon when many newspapers are not on paper. And I do mean soon. We’re not talking decades. We’re talking years.

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