FORTUNE TELLER: Lisa Chant’s prescient column from 2001.
FORTUNE TELLER: Lisa Chant’s prescient column from 2001.

Journo’s eerily accurate predictions from 19 years ago

WE'VE long heard about the decline of the print media but few predictions have been as jaw-droppingly accurate as one former journalist's.

The announcement that News Corp would be closing the print editions of more than 100 newspapers at the end of the month, moving to a digital-only model, has led to many journalists past and present poring through their personal archives of photos and story clippings.

Perhaps the most incredible item that has been dug up is a column written by former Fraser Coast Chronicle journalist Lisa Chant in 2001 (read it in full below).

Ms Chant's column, simply titled The future …, was exactly that: an almost entirely accurate foretelling of what would transpire 19 years later - even down to the exact date.

She opens her piece by setting the scene.

"It's 6am on Monday, June 26, 2020, and a buzz from the television tells you your Fraser Coast Chronicle has arrived," she writes.

Stop right there. June 26, 2020 (it's actually a Friday, not a Monday). One of the 365 days of the year.

It's also the very same date that the final print edition of the NewsMail, and a strong of other regional dailies with rich histories, will be produced, delivered to readers the following day.

It's the very same date that I, and many of my colleagues, will work our final day at these publications.

 

THE FUTURE IS HERE: Lisa Chant’s prescient column from 2001.
THE FUTURE IS HERE: Lisa Chant’s prescient column from 2001.

Now, she didn't get the device quite right, but nonetheless what Ms Chant predicted is nothing short of spooky.

"Welcome to the newspaper of the future," she continues.

In her column, the day's top story is the sighting of a Fraser Island dingo, thought to be extinct - thankfully something that did not come true.

Other things in the column have.

" … a growing 'green' focus has rendered paper a luxury."

Well, it's not quite a luxury, but there is a worldwide trend towards using less paper.

"As you click through the pages, graphics provide all sorts of value-added information to flesh out the stories."

Yes, they do. We employ a variety of value-adding components to complement our online stories.

Interactive maps, photo galleries, timelines, polls, links to related content, videos, embedded social media posts and other features regularly feature in our digital coverage, offering a more fulsome experience for readers.

"Instead of an office-based editorial team, everything will be done on a mobile basis."

Another accurate prediction, with reporters now able to cover court in real-time, stream live content from events, file stories and edited videos from smartphones and deploying drones to capture images previously out of reach.

"Subs, meanwhile, won't ever have to get out of their pyjamas."

Sub-editing, like the print media itself, has long been in decline but, again, they have been known to log in from home in their PJs. And a few probably will continue to, until June 26 anyway.

 

The future …

By Lisa Chant

IT'S 6am on Monday, June 26, 2020, and a buzz from the television tells you your Fraser Coast Chronicle has arrived.

You click the on switch, flip to Channel 16 and there in all its glory is the front page story - extinct dingo spotted on Fraser Island.

Fascinated by the tale of the wild dog, thought to have been permanently culled in 2001, you read through the page as the Chronicle jingle News you can use plays repeatedly.

Welcome to the newspaper of the future.

As we move through the early days of the second millennium, the process of gathering and delivering the news is already undergoing massive changes.

Take, for example, the internet, which allows people to read about an earthquake in China minutes after it happens, rather than waiting for the paper the next day.

For regional dailies like the Chronicle, this new competition ups the stakes in providing news that is fresh and relevant enough for residents to spend $1.

It also means making use of the new cutting-edge technology to avoid getting left behind.

Travelling again to 200, we find the Chronicle is no longer a printed tabloid, as a growing "green" focus has rendered paper a luxury.

Instead it is delivered via the TV, through which you log on, authorise a $1 debit from your credit card or key in your home subscriber password.

As you click through the pages, graphics provide all sorts of value-added information to flesh out the stories.

On Page 1, for example, pop-ups detail everything from Fraser Island's timeline of settlement to its history of dingo attacks on people.

An added feature is access to a paid archive, through which you can retrieve related stories from previous decades, even centuries.

But who's providing the news in this cyber-focused time?

In the newsroom of the future, things will run very differently to today.

Instead of an office-based editorial team, everything will be done on a mobile basis.

Reporters and photographers will work from their cards, using mobile phones to keep in contact with the chief-of-staff and laptop computers to do everything from filing stories to scanning photographic negatives.

Subs, meanwhile, won't ever have to get out of their pyjamas - they can log on to the APN network from home to receive their editing assignments.

In short, newspapers face a remarkable transformation in the next 20 years.

Technology will continue to redefine the way we collect and present news from a local, state, national and international perspective and our greatest challenge is to keep up with the times.

By 3020, who knows, perhaps the paper will be sent telepathically.



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