The world of news distribution has changed as Web 2.0 moves to maturity.  The news world, which was once dominated by print newspapers and professional jounalists has evolved to keep up with customer demand for access to free news online and the growth of citizen journalism via blogs, Twitter, and so on.  Today, the future of print newspapers looks grim.  Is the end of an era drawing near?

Pew Research Center’s 2008 news media consumption survey shows that 39% of respondents read a newspaper the day before they took the survey, which was down from 43% in 2006.

The number of respondents overall who read a print newspaper only dropped by approximately 26%.  Specifically in 2006, 34% of survey respondents said they read a print newspaper, while in 2008, only 25% claimed to read a print newspaper.  That’s a significant decline in just two years.

The primary demographic leading the shift from print to online news media is the younger generation of consumers, including both Generation Y and Generation X.  You can imagine how the statistics will look when the next generation hits adulthood.  But don’t be mislead.  Even Baby Boomers show a shift (although to a lesser degree) from print to online news readership.

Will print newspapers die completely?  Only time will tell, but in the meantime, we can discern two specific things from the trends cited in the Pew Research report.  First, citizen journalism is here to stay, and second, as the consumer population ages, more and more young people are turning to the Internet for news and information.  Both bode well for the future of online content aggregation and syndication, including Newstex’s News On Demand, Blogs On Demand, and Video On Demand products.

What do you think?  Will print newspapers be around in 5 years? 10 years?