Nothing will be on paper in 20 years' time. Or so my colleague Adam Westbrook predicts. In five years' time we'll be downloading news, books and any other media we subscribe to onto foldable sheets of micro-thin plastic (like Kindle but slicker). There will be downloading (or uploading?) machines in stations and other public buildings so that people can load up their plastic pages with text, video and audio, a bit like an Oyster card.
At least this would go some way to cutting down on paper recycling. And getting multimedia on the move without having to read a tiny iPod touch screen and find a wi-fi connection sounds like a good idea to me. Some of my other colleagues weren't convinced. One of them bet Adam £100 he was wrong.
But Adam's main message, as he says in his blog today, is that journalism departments everywhere, including ours at Kingston, have to shift their emphasis. We need to train our students to be entrepreneurs rather than expect a job for life. Being able to market yourself, find funding, get an audience and grow a brand will be vital skills. Students must blog, have a Twitter presence and join in with the conversation. They need video and photojournalism skills. And the future is niche, hyperlocal.
This last earned a shudder from colleagues who had spent tedious years on local papers "writing about dog mess", as one put it. But the old career model of starting on local papers, moving to regionals and then onto nationals is much rarer than it used to be.
Personally, I think these new ways of thinking potentially open up exciting routes into journalism for students. No longer do you have to wait for an editor to grant you space in a paper. You just start a blog and go for it. Of course, it's not as easy as that. You have to write well and get yourself noticed. And the sad truth is that blogging doesn't bring you a regular paycheck.