An Endangered Pleasure
An Endangered Pleasure
An Endangered Pleasure
The world of news has been transformed completely by the internet. Journalism is facing new challenges as consumers are embracing new ways to get information. Some newspaper outlets have expressed their skepticism about their future. Nonetheless, news outlets have been finding ways to survive the digital revolution. The changes have had a toll on journalism in general. News, previously under monopoly, has developed into a source of struggle and incertitude. Facebook alone has contributed to a significant decline in the news business. The digital era has therefore brought with it a steep decline in newspaper jobs.
More people are starting to see newspapers as an agonizing and troubling medium. According to Lucena, a further increase in the closure of newspaper operations and a decrease in their circulation have been observed in the twenty-first century (53). Recent studies show that less than 50% of people read the newspaper as opposed to the previous 80%. Additionally, daily readership fell from 52.6% to 37.5 percent in the 1990s. Between 1999 and 2004, general circulation reduced by about 1.3 million. (56). The past ten years have been tough on newspapers and the next ten years will not be any easier. While some suggest that the decline has plateaued, others expect it to worsen. Sadly, the revenue lost in circulation and print adverts may never be restored since the internet has provided easier alternatives. However, some people are still optimistic that print will continue to exist in the near future. However, there is doubt as to whether print will remain a source of primary revenue for newspapers, which have to adopt a new approach to how they operate to keep their audience (McIlroy). This perception is a global phenomenon touching major newspaper industries around the world.
Reasons for the Decline in the Use of Newspapers
Many agree that the decreased use of newspapers is mainly due to the increased popularity of internet sources and rapid growth in smartphones and tablet use. Either by use of Wi-Fi or cellular connections, readers can gain access to magazines, books, and newspapers. With the growth of digital technologies, fewer young adults are using newspapers. The internet has also eroded the newspaper’s advertising income. Many find the internet more convenient for advertising categories such as vehicles, jobs, and real estate. Some newspapers depended on classified advertising for up to 70% of their revenue. An example is a free service offered by Craigslist (Shearer and Matsa). From 2000 to 2007, Craigslist has cost the newspaper industry close to 5.4 billion dollars (Shearer and Matsa). Also, there is increased use of search engines such as Google. Rather than peruse through general interest publications, readers tend to seek particular blogs or writers. Internet sources such as social media and email have slowly shifted power from the news outlet. Initially, dissemination of information was restricted to broadcast mechanisms and printing presses. The internet has allowed thousands to communicate through their blogs. Some of my friends have their own blogs. They write on general topics like cooking, education, and a more recent trend, relationships and cosmetics-use. Some are using websites to promote their products and services. Personally, ordering products online has not been the best experience because of the many scammers that take advantage of gullible internet shoppers. The news travels rather swiftly on websites such as Twitter and Facebook because they are available free of charge (Forray). Some also prefer to use online subscriptions, which are also becoming obsolete to the public due to the impact of social media.
Most young adults believe newspapers are made by old people and are meant for old people. Consequently, from a young age, they are used to getting information from online sources. News outlets have been changing their models to try and appeal to the younger demographic. The general consensus is that newspapers will become obsolete if they continue to target the older population. The use of cable as a means to get news is also reducing the popularity of newspapers. Some argue that the newspaper is a literacy-dependent medium. Furthermore, cable news can provide information as it happens. Newspapers are available once a day and any information available after publication will only be available the next day (Forray). The younger generation, therefore, prefers watching cable news to reading newspapers.
Are Newspapers Still Important?
Although many seem to be of the opinion that newspapers are old- fashioned, it is very reliable. Forray argues that accuracy is not in the least important for social media. Many individuals who post on the internet avoid fact checking and editing, hence information is posted immediately and travels very quickly. In any case, news sent through social media does not generate money or revenue, as no subscription is required to read the post. Consequently, many have replaced print publications for less reliable sources. Even more disturbing is that the news become increasingly incorrect as they are transmitted from one person to the next. Furthermore, newspapers are still the main source of news because social media and blogs provide very little original content if any. Besides, newspapers provide important information and general knowledge; they enrich knowledge, and provide a clear idea and understanding of events taking place in the country and the world. What’s more, newspapers provide news on the economic situation, trade, entertainment, and commerce.
A good number of authors agree that newspapers have established credibility as publishers of news. Moreover, the editorial content of newspapers makes it best positioned to yield better information than any of their substitutes. Some consider newspapers to be the foundation of the media game because it has paved the way for other sources. For instance, radio, internet news, and television are dependent on newspapers databases and specialized staff. Furthermore, the internet has not acquired the ability to speak with comparable authority to that of newspapers, which still establish what will get covered and how. Therefore, digital media does not have the same credibility or reporting infrastructure that of newspapers (Lucena 57). Despite the constantly shifting media landscape, newspapers have been able to maintain a firm presence in society.
Printed newspapers are critical filters. They guide people about the most relevant, important, and authoritative sources. For electronic or digital sources, readers have to determine on their own what is accurate, important, and worth looking at. However, printed newspapers can also be considered a snapshot of history; they are a reflection of a particular moment in time as opposed to the electronic word which is editable and continuous. Notably, news that is delivered in print is not just content; it is an experience. It opens the mind to stories, perspectives, and information that readers might not have chosen to receive through Google Alerts and RSS feed. In addition, readers may skip important information when searching online. However, newspapers make important information accessible to a diverse audience, which is critical because not everyone has access to a tablet, smartphone, or computer.
Information circulating through social media can be inaccurate. Past surveys have revealed there are low levels of trust in the news from social media (Shearer and Matsa). Also, some people do not find social media reliable due to political bias, “fake news”, and lack of fact-checking and unreliable sources (Shearer and Matsa). About 10% of news consumers that get their news from social media critic it for lacking in-depth coverage and using clickbait-style headlines (Shearer and Matsa). From my observation, there have been various posts online about the government, organizations, and even celebrities that were later discredited for being fake news. One of the most absurd news I have read online was that a mermaid was found washed up on a beach. The writer even posted photos to make it more credible. However, I later discovered that it was not a true story. From mermaids to aliens, it is a challenge to distinguish fake from actual news. Even those that prefer to get their news from social media have concerns about the inaccuracy in news received from such platforms.
For me, reading the newspaper daily is still a routine. I specifically enjoy the fact that it summarizes news from different topics, from sports, politics, business, to public opinion. Reading articles that are well researched makes me feel like I have learned something. As opposed to social media news, the subject matter in newspapers is verifiable. In addition, the photographs, comics, and entertainment, such as horoscopes and crosswords brighten my morning. I am proud to keep myself up-to-date with current events. Moreover, newspapers publish news without attempting to influence public opinion. Conversely, news from social media tends to do the thinking for the readers. There was a time when the news was associated with development, ideas, and community involvement. However, currently, many prefer social media news. Even so, what is social media news? If the Kardashians are not in it, probably it is not news. Newspapers take me back to a time when the information being passed around essentially mattered and made a difference in the community.
Some newspapers such as The Guardian existed before the digital revolution begun. Such outlets have had to transition and establish an online presence. Due to the large costs associated with printing and delivering newspapers, publishers have had to cut down their printing frequency with others eliminating printing entirely. Some smaller outlets have adopted digital-only publication. However, numerous papers have retreated from charging readers who access content online following mixed success (McIlroy). Despite numerous efforts, it seems newspapers have only managed to delay the inevitable decline of the industry.
Due to the impact of the digital media, the newspapers are facing one of their greatest threats. The numbers that rely on print sources to obtain news are becoming less appealing with each new report. The newspaper industry is proof that the internet is putting an end to ink-on- paper publishing. Nevertheless, the relevance of newspapers is still more sensible and practical compared to the competing digital media, such as social media, blogs, and websites. As a result, in an effort to avoid complete fall of their outlets, many newspapers are shifting to the digital world.
Forray, Samuel. “Why Are Newspapers Going Extinct in the Modern Age?” Villanovan (Villanova University), 4 Dec. 2018, www.villanovan.com/opinion/why-are-newspapers-going-extinct-in-the-modern-age/article_9d7bec7c-f845-11e8-9ac0-07d4f0569ae3.html. Accessed 1 May 2019.
Lucena, André Amaral. “The Print Newspaper in the Information Age: An Analysis of Trends and Perspectives.” Proceedings of the Media Ecology Association, vol. 12, 2011, pp. 53–74.
McIlroy, Thad. “The Future of Newspapers.” Future by Industries, 1 July 2013, thefutureofpublishing.com/industries/the-future-of-newspapers/. Accessed 1 May 2019.
Shearer, Elisa, and Katerina Matsa. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2018.” Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project, 21 Sept. 2018, www.journalism.org/2018/09/10/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2018/. Accessed 1 May 2019.