Despite latest circulation figures that show mostly a downtrend (see yesterday’s Grumpy Editor), will a mushrooming U.S. population bolster newspapers in the future?
There is only so much that can be gleaned online.
No matter how fast some folks are with online searches, those with limited time find it still is quicker to consult newspapers for sports scores, daily TV program listings and movie start times at local theaters, as examples. Also, it’s a bit difficult to read several comic strips, follow detailed recipes and check out department store sales with ease without newspapers in hand.
Grumpy Editor finds it interesting to note that a planning scholar sees the U.S. population more than tripling to a billion people. However, this is the projection for sometime between 2100 and 2120 --- not much immediate help to current publishers and editors eagerly scanning the horizon for more readers.
But for those concerned about their children and grandchildren (a popular phrase politicians like to weave into their speeches), now is the time to focus on far-in-advance planning extending into the 22nd century.
Arthur C. Nelson says it’s not too early to be planning at least 92 years into the future. Nelson, professor in urban affairs and planning, and co-director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, is considered an expert in estimating population changes and their impact on planning and economic development.
People should be thinking about a bigger view of the future, says Nelson. "They are going to live longer, and we have to plan for that. It is not just the number, it's what is driving the number."
He adds, "The impact of U.S. population growth will probably come crashing into us sooner in the future than we realize. We can meet the challenges — if we plan for it. We need to begin asking the right questions, and get prepared psychologically and politically. Then we need to plan on how to manage America at one billion residents."
For example, it’s not too early to plan now for future water supply systems, major rail transit facilities and airports.
And, of course, add to that: design, form, content and distribution of newspapers of the future.