January 29, 2009

1981 TV Report on the Birth of Internet News - A Must Watch Video

LONG BEFORE anyone had really heard of the the Internet, early home computer users could read their morning newspapers online - sort of. A 1981 TV report on "The Birth of Internet News" begins, "Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home computer to see the day's newspaper. Well, it's not as far-fetched as it may seem."

Some other highlights from the video:
  • Both San Francisco papers - Examiner and Chronicle trying the new technology
  • Eight newspapers around the country are using the Internet for news
  • It is an experiment - not in it to make money
  • 2,000-3,000 home computers users in the Bay Area
  • Newspapers by computers - engineers predict we will get all our news this way
  • 2 hours to receive entire newspaper over the modem - and the telephone charge is $5 per hour. That can't compete with the 20 cent street edition

And here we are some twenty-plus years later and the Internet has radically impacted the entire newspaper industry. All across the country newspapers have cut staff and reduced delivery schedules as readership rates have sunk to new lows. They are struggling to survive and one news group that serves the Bay Area said just this morning that its 3,300 workers at 29 daily newspapers must take a week's furlough without pay.

The 1981 report had it right, it just didn't go far enough in its predictions.

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