Rusbridger: 'iPod moment' could kill print

The newspaper industry could be rocked by its own ‘iPod moment’where a device reads text so well that print becomes extinct, according to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

At a session entitled ‘Who’ll Win the Web?’at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Rusbridger said: ‘For the newspaper, there will be an iPod moment where someone creates a device that is so brilliant at reading text, the newspaper becomes irrelevant.”

Rusbridger also said the death of The Guardian in print would ‘in some ways make life simpler’and said that he was confident his team would continue to produce the product, with the same Guardian spirit, elsewhere.

He admitted that The Guardian was tying up people experimenting with podcasts that gained few listeners, but said it was because the newspaper was experimenting with everything. ‘There’s a fair amount of wasted effort at the moment but we’re learning all the time,” he said.

The Edinburgh debate centred on whether print media or broadcasters will prosper in the digital age.

The new business director at Channel 4, Rod Henwood, said: ‘In some ways we are less threatened than newspapers, because free broadcasters don’t have paying customers to lose. We have paying customers to gain through the internet.”

ITN chief executive Mark Wood said newspapers were more than just news and it was crucial to make those elements – such as lifestyle sections – pay in a multimedia strategy.

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