How did newspapers get where they are today?

For generations, the newspaper journalism has been the citizen watchdog and some say the agenda setter for society as a whole. But as we have seen in the recent years of the steady decline in readership as people are getting their news through different outlets, which are all connected to the internet in some form.

Why and how did this conglomerate change the way we get our outlet to the outside world? The internet solved the core publishing issue of newspapers, according to Clay Shirky. In his words, “the printing presses are terrifically expensive to set up and run.” It had been worth it at the time before the digital age because you would only have one other competitor when you working in the stand point of smaller town. It forced everyone into doing a similar set of organization models, so the only differences were which stories covered and different angles. But the newspaper was still involved in what you were going to hear as news.

For all these reasons the internet is one of the main reasons that newspapers are declining in popularity and usage. We have turned into a society that does not want to read a 20 inch story when we can theoretically get the same information in a scroll of our screen or headline in twitter. The internet has allowed for web 2.0 to let readers have more of a community online and get our opinions heard. The internet also allows us to do things more quickly. Another reason is that the newspapers allow for our news and the way we connect with the outside world through our personalized niches. We have many more perspectives available at a smaller cost.

Some feel that the loss of newspapers will be the loss of journalistic integrity completely. But I do not buy it. Currently, many newspapers are no longer merely giving a “digital facelift” to the paper but adding different content to their sites and trying to make it more of a means of survival to enhance their skills online. The Austin-American Statesman, for example, has made it accessible through internet options such as phone applications, twitter, and web 2.0 features as well such as comment sections after stories. But in a graphic from NYtimes.com, this is one paper in the country that is not like many others it has attracted many potential buyers. Many newspapers across the country have had to result to cutbacks in staffing, amount of news, and reduced space.

Ann Arbor News decided to take a whole new route altogether. They decided to stop their print edition altogether to create a more profitable enterprise, trying to rebrand the 175-year-old News as a Web publication. They have fixed costs such as paper, printing, and delivery have been drastically reduced, went from a staff of 316 to 60—plus some 80 from the “preferred blogging community” the majority unpaid.

I do feel that there will always be a need for newspapers. But does our future contain daily newspaper? No. The only reason I feel it will stick around for the next 5 to 10 years  is sentimental value for the daily newspaper. I also feel it is because we have yet come up with a good enough alternative to print for the internet alone to be withstanding. I understand that newspapers are still profitable because there are several advertisers that still use them for insert advertisements.

Personally, I absolutely love the Sunday paper and would really like to keep that tradition alive. I just think the newspaper needs to be restricted. It has been just taken for granted by our generation, we see a newspaper and we want to use it to help us pack up our knick-nacks and line the litter box, it isn’t our go-to like online news is for us. Many of the articles I have read have been from former newspaper employees who are now on the online spectrum and have some nostalgia of having a printed paper in their hands with their morning coffee.

I do not agree with Gary Kamiya saying that the death of newspapers equals the death of news. He states that if we let the Internet win, than there will be no need for journalism to come to the extent that it is now. But what I feel is that we are just advancing our skills with online and not replacing the quality of news but making it more affordable for everyone. I understand that our generation has not been the most avid, loyal readers of the printed word, however, we have always had that as our option. When that is gone—does that mean that our need for news will be gone? No. I do not believe it does.

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Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 5:25 am  Leave a Comment  

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