As a millennial, I think newspapers are going to become like analog photography or vinyl records: a niche but strong market for the true enthusiasts. We're in the digital transition period for news, where people who read the newspaper because it was the only option are abandoning the medium, leaving the core who truly enjoy the medium for its own sake. Newspapers will have to become smaller as their markets shrink, but if they are clever, they will scale to their audience (and tailor their content to their audience). Here in Houston, there is a local newspaper/current events mag called Free Press which is wildly successful and has almost 100% readership among the hip young things. It's free to pick up, which is a difference, but it, like the old grey ladies, is supported mainly by ads.

I think there's an opportunity for the quality of journalism to INCREASE, but only if the newspapers are spun off from the giant lobby-funding conglomerates they're currently owned by, and taken up by people who care about actual journalism and who appreciate the hedonic value of reading an honest-to-god newspaper. There will obviously still have to be a web presence, but the two can be done as a value-added proposition, the way modern indie record companies give you a code for a free digital download when you buy the vinyl album.

Subscribe to the physical paper, get free online access with the iPhone app.