About ten years ago, Tod Jacobs, at the time a Sanford Bernstein equity analyst, wrote a 165 page research report entitled Red Sky at Morning: The Newspaper Industry. (I still have a copy.) A snippet on the cover said “Longer term, pricing power to weaken in the wake of changing advertising habits and encroachment by technologically-advanced competition, holding revenue growth to below nominal GDP levels.” That was putting it mildly. I was working at a newspaper company then and this report created a small earthquake. There were a number of other death calls for newspapers at about the same time.

But the newspaper industry and newspapers have survived, in my view largely because of the format. Newspapers are portable, cheap and readily allow for the serendipitous discovery of information you didn’t know you wanted to read about. You can also find out about local stores having sales pretty easily and can carry around apartment listings and other classifieds.

I think the format advantage of newspapers is going to be challenged in the near future as wireless devices are married to a combination of web-based content like Friendster for socializing; Craig’s List for classifieds, personals and other ads; RSS feeds for news, sports and movie listings; and blogs for local content, content you’re really interested in and serendipitous discovery.

The time people spend with their newspapers is decreasing. As wireless devices connect this content, an increasing number of people will have their heads in their phones instead of their heads in the paper.