There’s no newspaper rack in the supermarket of the future

Fun week for newspapers! Thanks, Romenesko at Poynter, for rounding them up. You made my evening mix of Coffee Milk and Jameson justified. Mmmm. Let start with the biggest one: the New York Times will cut 100 newsroom people. The L.A. Times is cutting, Baltimore Sun is cutting (David Simon is boiling, and so am I), everyone is cutting. What to do with all these soon-to-be out-of-work journalists when they join our jaded ranks, hopefully in gainful (and sometimes ungainful) employment? I know, how about this?

Actually, I’m not really kidding. My prediction, to anyone who is listening, is that in 20 years, most of us will be working retail full-time, most likely in supermarkets. And this is no knock on retail. It’s just going to be the only work left in this country.

Think about it: All the remaining manufacturing jobs will be gone, and most white-collar jobs will be outsourced by then, too. With video and telephone conference-calling and high-speed connections, call centers won’t be the only branches exported to central Asia. So why will they need you to sit in that cubicle? (Small consolation: why will they need your middle-manager boss in her tiny mid-row office, either?)

With most major events televised, and even the smallest city council meetings on TV or streamed through the Web, they’ve even experimented with outsourcing journalism overseas. That includes outsourcing the graphic artists. And check out this one, where the guy naively thinks this won’t work for local news because corporate editors are going to worry about having to “spend time and resources on training these [outsourced] reporters to ‘know’” their coverage areas. Papers don’t spend that money to do that now in their own newsrooms, fool!

So what’s left? Retail, my friends.

Ah ha! What about Amazon, you say, and all those reports about chain stores having a shitty Christmas sales season? True, that will mean fewer stores, but they will be there. Put simply, people like to shop, and there is a large segment of people that still like to go out to shop, or just walk the malls. This country’s credit love affair (the subprime crisis aside) will continue to make this so.

Plus, fresh (and even frozen) foods will still make supermarkets appealing, even if you can buy boxed stuff over the Internet.

And with retail shipping growing, there will be more of a need for packagers at the various warehouses, truck drivers and deliverymen.

So essentially, we will be a nation of retail workers buying and selling from each other. I work at Stop and Shop, you work at Target, let’s make a deal.

The only other growth industry I see is in trash collection (especially with all those shipped boxes to throw away, er, recycle). That is, until Mr. Fusion comes along.


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