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What’s next for newspapers?

We’ve been hearing for years that newspapers and magazines will be dying out, any day now. We want our news in real-time, and we want it in video format. Print? That’s for old timers with time to read and time to wash the newsprint off of their hands. And then there comes some pretty exciting news about the news.

Patrick Soon-Shiong has invested $70.5 million in the Tribune Publishing Company, which – among other papers – owns the LA Times and the Chicago Trib. But he’s not just throwing good money after bad. Soon-Shiong wants to remake the newspaper reading experience. He recently said that:

“…he wants to use “machine vision” technology he’s developed to transform the experience of reading a print newspaper…

For example, a reader could pan a camera across a physical newspaper and the photos could be turned into video. Focus the camera on a photo of basketball star Kevin Durant … “you’d [see him] dunking,” he said.

“You’d be bringing to life whatever you see on the newspaper,” Soon-Shiong said. “Every page, every picture, every commercial is merely a TV channel activated by the picture itself through machine vision recognition.” “(Source: Bloomberg)

Although it’s not the same thing at all, it does kind of remind me of those “live” pictures on the wall in at Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s school. And I do find it pretty cool and pretty exciting. Although it does raise the question of why you wouldn’t just go online to see a video of Kevin Durant to begin with. My other question is whether the demographic that is still reading print media. My understanding is that, while readership has gone down in all age groups, it remains highest among those who are over 65. Will these readers be interested in taking out a camera, focusing it on a picture in their newspaper, and linking to online video? Maybe not. But maybe the intent is to make physical newspaper readership more appealing to “digital natives.”

Even if I’m not sure who, exactly, this use of machine vision technology is for, it’s still very interesting.