What we’ll see in 2013 in digital media


Mathew Ingram

Newspaper boat floating
1) More newspaper chains will file for bankruptcy because of legacy costs: The Journal Register Co., a unit of Digital First Media that owns a number of daily and weekly newspapers in the U.S. Northeast, recently filed for bankruptcy for the second time, a result of the massive costs it faces as a result of pension obligations and other costs related to its aging work force. As newspapers continue to struggle with sliding online revenue, this problem is only going to increase, and some papers will have to file for bankruptcy or shut down completely.

2) At least one newspaper will turn off its paywall after it fails: Paywalls are all the rage in newspaper-land, because of the success of the subscription plan at the New York Times, but they are not working all that well at some smaller players — papers like the Boston Globe have seen relatively tiny numbers of subscribers sign up, despite having their plans in place for over a year. Expect to see some newspapers give up on this plan and go back to trying to maximize their online advertising revenue instead.

3) Twitter will become even more of a competitor for media companies: We’ve written a fair bit about how Twitter is becoming a media platform in its own right, as it tries to control — and monetize — more of the content that flows through the network via features such as “expanded tweets” or Twitter Cards. While this is a beneficial relationship for a lot of media players who get exposure for their content, that relationship will become more tense in 2013 and beyond, as Twitter’s desire to form partnerships with content companies like NBC and others makes it clear whom the company sees as a friend and whom it sees as competition.