The Sunpapers are among those looking to the development of information-gathering systems to produce the newspaper of the future: the television set that also prints out a "front page."
In the United States, the first steps toward this new type of information processing by newspaper companies have been taken by the New York Times Co. and Dow Jones & Co., owner of the Wall Street Journal.
Dow Jones, through a news retrieval service, sells information from a data base that includes stories in the Journal. Barron's and the Dow Jones News Service. It is virtually instantaneous - a story moved on the Dow ticker at noon, for example, is available in the retrieval service a minute later, Data remains in the system for 90 days.
Customers have included banks and brokerage firms but as Dow expands its service, customers may include other newspapers, libraries, businesses and government - all capable of searching a computer bank for the latest information on major news events or corporate developments, reading data on a TV screen or making a printed copy - a far simpler task than searching through three months of the Journal.
The New York Times Information Bank is now used by some 300 corporations, libraries and government agencies. Through this system, customers can search electronically for material from 75 daily newspapers and magazines, including Times reporting from 1969 on, making it the largest general information data base (and on which the Times Co. reported a pre-tax loss of $1.6 million last year vs. a loss of $2.1 million in 1975).
The Times Co. expects another loss this year but one significantly reduced and, over a long term, the service is expected to be profitable.