The past few years have been hard for the print news industry. Newspapers are losing money due to a decline in readership, which has resulted in loss of jobs and closure of papers. Even some of the biggest papers such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have been experiencing major losses. According to Pew Research Center, the newspaper workforce has shrunk by about 20,000 positions in the last 20 years.
It is safe to say that most people have given up on newspapers. Today, we get our news from our televisions and smartphones, opting to click articles on Twitter rather than flip through the pages of a newspaper. It can also be said that we have quicker and better access to news now than ever before. We can get our news as it’s happening with the help of the Internet and we are able to access stories from all over the world rather than just our own city.
Death of the newspaper
The Pew Research Center said that 2015 might as well have been a recession for newspapers. Weekly circulation and Sunday circulation showed their worst declines since 2010, advertising revenue had its greatest decline since 2009, and newsroom employment dropped 10 percent.
Canada’s Digital Divides, a reportprepared by Communic@tions Management, says that, “Canada’s daily newspapers are in a 10-year race against time and technology to develop an online business model that will enable them to preserve their brands without print editions, and – even more difficult – to try to develop new kinds of economic bundles (or other kinds of economic arrangements) that will enable their online presence to maintain their current journalistic scope.”
It goes without saying that this is the case for most newspapers around the world, not just Canada. With newspapers developing online editions rather than print, the concern now is that online journalism may fail to uphold its basic values – truth, integrity, accuracy, fairness and humanity.
As Christopher Harper said in a paper written for MIT Communications Forum, “The Internet enables everyone who owns a computer to have his or her own printing press.”
Is the Internet to blame?
Most would agree that the Internet is playing a huge part in the decline of newspapers. In today’s day and age, people can get their news as it happens with the click of a button. Traditional papers are now competing with the likes of online publications such as Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Elite Daily whose flashy and tabloid-like headlines pull readers in and keep them clicking.
Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia, told The Guardian that the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 foreshadowed how events and news are covered in today’s day and age. “People used the web to connect to the experience by watching it in real time on TV and then posting on message boards and forums. They posted bits of information they knew themselves and aggregated it with links from elsewhere. For most, the delivery was crude, but the reporting, linking and sharing nature of news coverage emerged at that moment,” she said.
The Internet makes it easy for anyone with access to get the news they want delivered to them fast and simple. They merely scroll through social media feeds such as Twitter and Facebook and click on whatever news articles interests them. It is also just as easy to type a news outlet’s website into your browser or download their official app and have all the news you need at the click of a button. Not to mention that journalists are now able to provide live feeds of events so that audiences can watch no matter where they are.
Before the Internet, people had to wait until their daily paper was delivered or watch the morning news stations to receive their news. This shows one of the clear reasons for the decline of newspapers, as people do not have time to wait for their news anymore – they want it fast and at the click of a button.
Social media can also pose a problem though, as anyone can post whatever they please at any time. This essentially makes anyone who knows how to work Twitter a ‘journalist.’
According to an Australian study, newspapers around the world will by extinct by 2040. Are there negatives to this? Absolutely. But there are many positive aspects to news digitalization as well.
With the media moving out of print and into digital and online outlets, there is so much room for growth and innovative news reporting. We are already seeing technology, such as 360-degree video, coming to life and once that becomes integrated into media outlets, it will change the way we receive our news forever.
Online publications allow for much more than traditional publications ever did for more reasons than one. Journalists can now build strong connections with their readers and interact with them through social media. As well as building connections with their readers, they are now able to make strong connections with other journalists from all over the world with the click of a button.
Journalists can get feedback from their audiences, who will also undoubtedly find mistakes and ensure they get corrected. Correcting mistakes is made easier since all that needs to be done is a simple edit and save, as opposed to waiting for an entire redaction in tomorrow’s paper.
Some will argue that with online news, journalism as a profession may become obsolete. While it is true that with the Internet anyone can be a journalist, the fact still remains that there are professionals and it is still a job with a certain set of rules. Most people will still go to reputable sources online for their news rather than some average Joe on social media.
We are in a digital age and the business model of the newspaper is no longer viable. Technology is constantly growing and we as a society are growing with it. With this will come the eventual demise of the printed newspaper, but with its death will come brighter, new beginnings.