It is already possible to buy a copy of each day's Sydney Morning Herald each morning in Wellington, New Zealand, at around $12 a copy. Yes that's a lot of money but if you happen to be a Sydneysider on business in New Zealand for a week it is not ridiculous to spend around $70 for a week to have the news from a source you know available every morning within an hour or two of it being published in Sydney.
Latest circulation figures show that most metropolitan newspapers have dropped by around 25% in circulation in the past decade, but regional and country newspapers, while also down, can measure the decline in single figures. I do see an end coming for the free weeklies in suburbs where there is little sense of community. But in country towns I think we will have printed newspapers for many years to come; they have never been easy to justify in cost but that means their publishers get used to cutting costs. Digital presses could return the printing of small town newspapers to the communities they serve - and perhaps their ownership will return to locals too.
One man or woman with a copy of InDesign and a $1000 computer might need a $100,000 digital press (think wide-format sheet-fed inkjet) for a multi-page tabloid newspaper, but if you are happy with an 8-page tabloid that cost might be halved. And it is technology that while being relatively new, is available now. And as the newspaper starts to print so the website and smartphone/tablet apps will also activate.
This state has already seen the one-man newspaper businesses which had the press on the back of a wagon following the miners in the gold rush. We could see similar businesses resulting from the new technology, but there is a warning: some of those newspaper people had some pretty intense views. Balance was not one of their desires in editorial writing.
There are many websites with info on digital presses suirtable for newspapers but one of the good ones is at Print21.