Death of the Newspaper Vs. Birth of Second Ave Subway Line

Commuters-Riding-Subway-Reading-Newspapers-Business-People-Photo.jpg
On the T Train?
Ross Dawson, author and media-thinker, has released a report chronicling the extinction of the newspaper. He predicts that the American newspaper will die out by 2017 (the first in the world!). The MTA also predicts that the 2nd Avenue Subway line will be completed by 2017. So: Which is more likely to happen: The death of print media, or the birth of East Side transportation?

Dawson, who's basically the Australian version of NYU journoguru Jay Rosen, is described as a "leading futurist" in his bio. Meaning: He "predicts the future." Meaning: He can just spit out any bullshit that he wants with no actual research behind it and call it "facts" citing historical precedent. Dawson gives the following global reasons factors that will drive the pace of newspaper extinction:

Increased cost performance of mobile phones, Increased cost performance of tablets/ e-readers, Development of high performance digital paper, Changes in newsprint and print production costs, Uptake of digital news monetization mechanisms, Trends in advertising spend and allocation, and Development of open platforms

Note that these are all seemingly-true-but-absent-of-factual-data-pieces support his "findings."

The fact is, coming up with 2017 as a date of the death of American newspapers is fairly arbitrary. Of course we all know that newspapers will probably die out soon but there's no actual proof of that year or any of the other years that are listed for other countries (Estonian newspapers dead in 2030!).

So if the newspaper's not actually dying in 2017 will I be able to read my New York Times on the morning T train (the name of the blue line)? We know that construction of the line is killing local businesses but when will the massacring stop? The MTA just found out that 55 buildings along part of the route have to be enforced to handle the subway's movement so it doesn't look like it'll be done for a while.

The New York Post quotes MTA Capital Construction chief Michael Horodniceanu as saying that the workers have been "averaging about 40 feet per day". The whole line is 8.5 miles long (44,880 feet). If they were moving at this pace from the beginning (they were projecting to move at 55 feet every day) it should take them 1122 days or about 4 years. So if they continue at their pace we'll have the subway dug by 2014. Giving them about equal time to build terminals and test trains, it seems that the MTA is close to right.

So whether we'll be reading a copy of the Post in our hands or on our screens, it seems that we'll get to do it while exploring the West Side -- if the construction doesn't make all of the businesses and people move out before it's over.

[mtanzer@villagevoice.com]

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