Center for the Digital Future director Cole tells Sydney conference that broadband Internet will save newspapers

USC Annenberg's Center for the Digital Future director Jeffrey Cole told the "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Australia that the Internet changed newspapers and broadband will make them flourish in the future (Full video here).


"The Sydney Morning Herald could never compete with ABC 7 or 9," Cole said in his Dec. 10 delivery of the keynote plenary address on broadband, digital technology and their impact on society. "Newspapers have no audio, no video, they have still pictures. But through broadband, as those newspapers go on the Web, all those disadvantages disappear. On the Web, the Morning Herald is live, has audio, has video, has an incredible archive. With broadband, newspapers do survive and compete and we're looking at what are the economic models."


Australia Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy invited Cole, who also participated in a small, private roundtable on the future of the media with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at Rudd's Sydney residence following the forum. Cole talked about how far the Internet has come, and said he believes there is a bigger gap between dialup and broadband than there is between non-use and dialup.

"The Internet is what changed all of this, broadband is what saves newspapers — not only saves them but makes them flourish in the long-term," Cole said. "If you went to the Web site right now at 10:30 in the morning — the Sydney Morning Herald — and you saw a box that said, 'You want the latest, breaking news of Australia and the world? Check back in 21 hours,' people would laugh and never go back to that site again."

He also said that speed is far more important than in the past because of the increase in video uploading and viewing.

"The broadband Internet is not just a faster Internet, it's a whole different world where things that we never thought before were possible now are, and will change our world unlike anything we've seen with the exception of things like the printing press and electricity," he said.

He said in the early days of the Internet, people would aggregate their tasks and get them all done so they did not have to back online again until the next day. With broadband, though, it changed everything.

"Broadband's now extending television beyond just that set in the home on a schedule," he said. "Not only are we watching it everywhere in the home, but now television is escaping from the home. We're watching it at the airport waiting for the flight, on the airpline itself, in the back seat of our cars. Television is becoming something moving into every element of our lives and the interest in video and television and the time we spend ... is just skyrocketing."

Video of Jeffrey Cole's speech
Realising Our Broadband Future