Papers heading into an electronic future
Helsingin Sanomat's new eReading video and blog show how a newspaper may look in the future
By Olavi Koistinen
The prophets of doom believe that the print newspaper is a product that has passed its sell-by date and is on its way to the wastebasket of history.
The picture is already such an old one that it has become a bit foxed around the edges and has started to yellow.
"The end of the printed newspaper has been predicted for donkey's years now", sighs Helsingin Sanomat managing editor Kaius Niemi.
Niemi believes that the paper newspaper is not going to disappear anywhere anytime soon.
However, in the years ahead newspapers as we know them will very probably find themselves put up alongside a lot of new forms of displaying the familiar news content.
"The pace of technological development has really stepped up of late", says Niemi.
New devices have come onto the market that are designed for reading books and newspapers, and they are being developed at a hectic rate.
At the same time, the capacity of smartphones has moved ahead in leaps and bounds and the display screens have grown larger and more eye-friendly.
The most eager consumers already read their news from their mobile phone.
Those less convinced just shake their head in disbelief - who wants to squint and peer at a little image like that?
Nearly everybody, on the other hand, is reading their news from a larger screen, attached to a PC or a notebook computer.
The big publishing houses are scratching their heads over how they can secure their income flow, now that they have gone and decided themselves that they should distribute content for free on the Internet.
Helsingin Sanomat's new blog, entitled "HS Next", shows how newspapers' new distribution channels are changing content, reading habits, and not least the business's commercial prospects.
The blog was opened up to readers last Wednesday, and will include input from Niemi himself and fellow managing editor Reetta Räty, as well as editor-in-chief Reeta Meriläinen and a number of the paper's development staffers.
The first entry includes a video (see link below) that demonstrates how the future interactive Helsingin Sanomat could look in a tablet or electronic book device.
The user experience development company Linja Design has produced one vision of the development path that the paper might take in the future.
Whilst Niemi is not about to take it literally as the one-and-only way forward for Hesari, he applauds the demo as a means of showing how things could move ahead in a more electronic direction.
The video itself is naturally in Finnish on the HS website, but an English-language version has been posted on YouTube and it is linked below.
It is well worth a look, and there is nothing to stop one from commenting on it in the blog or even to our own firstname.lastname@example.org email, either.
Helsingin Sanomat / Edited from an article first published in print 10.3.2010
HS Next blog (in Finnish)
Watch video: eReader vision by Helsingin Sanomat and Linja Design (YouTube)
OLAVI KOISTINEN / Helsingin Sanomat