We can’t do away with the newspaper
The death of the newspaper has been somewhat anticipated for at least a decade now. Since the advent of the Internet, people have had the ability to access information instantaneously, and use online sources for virtually everything they need. This has cast doubt on the ability of the traditional press news to survive.
According to a survey done by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, a third of Americans now get news on a mobile device at least once a week. The study shows that 73 percent of adults who consume news on their tablet devices read in-depth articles sometimes, including 19 percent who do so regularly. Similarly, 61 percent of adults who use their smartphones sometimes read longer stories, and 11 percent do so regularly.
Newspapers are struggling more and more than ever before. The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times have all had well documented financial struggles due in large part to plummeting ad revenues and subscriptions.
Many local publications, such as the New Orleans based Times-Picayune, have drastically cut back print editions or have gone digital entirely. Others, like the Baltimore Examiner, the Oakland Tribune, and the Albuquerque Tribune, have disappeared altogether.
Cable and online news content have gobbled up a tremendous amount of market share and with it, vast amounts of advertising dollars. If the companies that own traditional newspapers wish to not only survive, but return to profitability, it is essential that the business model be re-thought and revised to better suit the demands of a rapidly changing media consumer.
More immediacy, interactive content, and a greater focus on delivering news via the most prevalent and most convenient platforms are essential steps to bringing long-term solvency to the legacy of news providers.
However, one thing is often overlooked in the rush to modernize the traditional newspapers, and that is value.
In the rush to deliver content as quickly and as conveniently as possible, much of the thought and discipline in reporting news accurately, fairly, and responsibly is
lost in translation. The simple act of sitting in front of a computer and physically hammering out the words that the public will read, forces a writer to think a lot about what it is he or she is putting on the page, and in the minds of their readers.
A new survey, done by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, shows that cable television is also declining as a primary news source for the public. “The overall share of Americans saying they regularly watch local television news has slipped from 54 percent in 2006 to 48 percent today,” states the report.
The slip of the newspaper and local television news is due to the increase of online media. Today, getting our newsfeed from smartphones and tablets has become the main media source. But that doesn’t justify forgetting about the newspaper, leaving it to tarnish and turn yellow—showcasing just how ancient it can be.
Online media versus printed press is like a car with an automatic transmission and a stick shift. Automatic is more convenient for everyone, and easier to drive. The driver can eat a sandwich; apply make-up, or any number of distracting and dangerous activities and—if you’re lucky—still get to a location in one piece.
On the other hand, it is very difficult to eat a sandwich while driving on a manual transmission. I know because I’ve tried.
Sensationalism and instant news is a lot
easier, like driving an automatic. An outlet can pump out stories about fires,celebrities, sex scandals, and any number of easy and frivolous things. But when you try to text and drive, just like when you opt for ratings and money in reporting, it’s only a matter of time before you crash.
The media landscape is changing. Things like car chases are exciting and boost ratings, thus making ads more profitable. But we must not allow the written record of our history to disappear. I still have newspapers from September 12, 2001 and newspapers from November 5, 2008. I will keep these printed papers with me as a reminder of things that took place and made history in my lifetime. One day, I will hand these printed papers to my children and grandchildren for posterity.
Newspapers today may play a smaller role in our lives, but their presence is important and has always been invaluable. Events that have the potential to change our lives and the world forever can transpire on any given day. It is more important than ever for those who document and report for the public record to deliver quality work to the public. It is equally important to put it on paper, so that future generations can examine history in a tangible form.
We won’t do away with automatic transmissions, and we surely won’t get rid of 24-hour news or smartphones. But we certainly can’t afford to do away with the newspaper either.