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Warren Buffet recently announced he is leaving the board for the Washington Post Co. after almost a 40 year run. On another note Rupert Murdoch's News Corp just launched the first i-pad only newspaper last week which it plans to charge 99 cents per week or $40 per year to read. There has also been talk that the New York Times, the most visited news publication on the internet, will also start charging for it's on-line paper.
Dealers and agencies both know traditional newspapers have been losing revenue for years. It's no surprise that we are going to see more of a shift toward completely digital publications. It's cheaper to produce, it's "greener", it's easier, faster and cheaper to distribute. The only down side is that they still don't have the readership of regular papers :) I personally feel newspapers will eventually all go digital, if not for at least the most basic environmental and cost reasons. You already have paperless offices, why not paperless "papers". But something that will never change is that people will always need to go somewhere to get news and information from a place they know and trust. As to where that will be and how much it will cost to advertise there still remains to be seen. Plus until everyone has a smart phone, tablet or computer there will still be plenty of people reading papers. And even then some people still prefer paper to screen. I am a huge "techie" for example. But I refuse to get a kindle. I don't get to read as much as I would like, so I prefer the feel of a real book. I enjoy visiting the library, the quiet rustle of pages, the smell of paper after it has aged for decades in the care of hundreds of readers. To me reading a book is a visceral experience as well as a mental enjoyment. You can't replace something like that with technology.
A younger associate of mine recently asked me "why do they even have newspapers anymore? I only read things on-line anyway" My answer was pretty simple... Where else can you find all of the dealerships in your area in one place so you can compare prices side by side? Most dealers have a great web presence these days but comparison shopping on-line is much harder than just opening the local paper.
So what does this all amount to for dealers? Well as much as dealers have wanted to finally say goodbye to the papers it looks like they are here to stay. As long as people need news, no matter how or where they go to get it, there will probably be a place where dealers will have to advertise. Especially if on-line publications move from just national to regional or even local publications.