Each generation seems to think that it's the first to imagine radical change in the newspaper industry. The predictions of futuristic robot editors? They date back to at least 1968. Tablet news? At least 1994. Printing the news by radio right in your home? 1934.
Yes, the newspaper of today is definitely a different animal than it was a hundred years ago. But just like every medium that came before and after, it has had to evolve.
It's not surprising to read a 1922 article in Radio News magazine that predicted radio would kill the newspaper completely.
From the March 1922 issue of Radio News magazine:
Seated comfortably in the club car of the Twenty-first Century Flyer — fast airplane service between London and New York — the president of the Ultra National Bank removes a small rubber disk from his vest pocket and places it over his ear. A moment hence, he will receive by radiophone the financial news of the world. Simultaneously, millions of other people all over the globe will receive the message. At designated hours, news of a general character will also be received.
The broadcasting of news by radiophone had long displaced the daily newspaper, and...
Don't scoff! The day may be nearer than you suspect. In Hungary, a wire "telephone newspaper" has been successfully conducted for more than 25 years. For nearly a year, financial news direct from the Amsterdam Bourse has been broadcasted by radiophone to 200 banks and brokerage firms in Holland. And within a few months the German Government has installed near Berlin a wireless telephone station for the broadcasting of general news on a regular daily schedule throughout the entire country.
In the end, of course, radio didn't kill the newspaper. Just as TV didn't kill radio. Each medium simply adapted to capitalize on what it did best. The challenges of newspapers today may seem unique because it deals with the specific medium on which people consume news (read: paper instead of pixels). But every form of media is facing similar challenges.
Radio has adapted for the podcast age, just as the introduction of FM changed the game before that. TV is trying to figure out how to get paid similar advertising rates that it did in the 1990s now that the landscape is dotted with YouTube videos and Netflix series. But somehow the newspaper lives on. At least if you still want to call it that.
Image: Douglas Fairbanks in 1922 via Getty Images