I believe that if newspapers don’t disappear in the future, they will probably change their format and reduce the number of printed copies.
The formats of media are changing not for the first time. According to (Textbook) first newspapers appeared about 1200 years ago. In 1690 the first America’s newspaper was published in Boston. Later, with the adventure of radio and television, newspapers’ production gradually started to decline, because it became more efficient and quick to get breaking news via new kinds of media. However, TV still didn’t have a chance to compete with papers, because papers were providing more deep information. Much bigger stress newspapers felt during 1990s after the appearance of the Internet.
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“About 67 million Americans now read blogs, and 21 million write blogs, creating an explosion of new writers and new forms of customer feedback that did not exist five years ago (pew, 2008). Social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook attact over 70 and 30 million visitors a month, respectively, and businesses are starting to use social networking tools to connect their employees, and managers worldwide.”says (Management Information Systems, managing the digital firm, eleventh edition. Keneth C. Laudon, Jane P. Laudon. 2010, chapter 1, page 35).It seems that the whole world is turning online.
Nowadays a lot of popular public editions are reducing the number of printed material. For example, according to //www.usatoday.com/printedition/money/20090318/newspapers18_cv.art.htm, The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News have cut their home delivery to three days a week and advised readers to find the rest of the news online.
According to Jeremy Porter there are 4 main aspects which still keep newspapers alive: content, readers, advertisers and format. At the same time JP disproves all these features and argues that newspapers won’t be still published in 5 years. (//blog.journalistics.com/2009/will_your_newspaper_be_around_in_five_years/)
Newspapers don’t differ a lot from one from another. You can find the same information in the Internet, because most of periodicals, including very popular editions, such as The Wall Street Journal, New York Times or Washington Post, are also published online. Moreover, you can read the overwhelming majority of information online for free, that makes the Internet even more attractive.
Readers: A reader is the most important concern for a newspaper. Newspaper will have no success without readers. However, more and more people agree that “It’s “nice to have” (printed editions), but they can live without (them)”. More and more people are becoming Internet-users, and most of Internet users read news online. For example, I myself get new information about what is happening in the world and particularly in me home country, by reading short messages on Twitter. And as far as I know students don’t read newspapers at all, despite rare cases, when we need to find a particular piece of information only in a particular newspaper and nowhere else.
Talking about older generations, it seems that they should be accustomed to the papers, but statistics proves the opposite. One can argue that older generation reads newspapers and doesn’t want to change anything, but according to the survey made by Pew Internet and American Life Project the number of Internet users in age group 70-75 increased from 26 to 45% within 4 years. This fact sounds strange, but 4% of Internet users are 73+ years old.
Where do newspapers get their revenue? The most suitable answer is “advertisers”. But will advertisers sponsor printed newspapers if they are not that successful? According to //www.usatoday.com/printedition/money/20090318/newspapers18_cv.art.htm large newspapers in big cities are more in danger than local editions are. It is rather expensive to put your ad in a newspaper, especially when you have a lot of other opportunities: radio, magazines, websites and billboards. On the other hand advertisers don’t have such a large range of possibilities in small towns, and they have to put their promotion to the newspapers in order to reach the audience.
Newspapers’ revenue can be made also by online advertisements. It is even more comfortable for both sides, because one can track, how many clicks were made on this link, while you will never know, how many people actually read a newspaper and paid any attention to advertisements.
The last argument is newspapers are not so environmentally safe. It takes tones of wood material, lots of electricity and many delivery tracks to produce and transport the papers. At the same time the Internet is rather ecologically safe, so producing printed periodicals doesn’t make any sense from the environmental point of view. Of course, the Internet requires a lot of technical products, such as computers, notebooks, iPads, and others, but producing of these technologies will grow despite turning newspapers’ production online.
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There is an opinion that good online papers will make you pay for the information, because it takes a lot of efforts and enough money to get news, create an article according to them and make this article readable. Moreover, some information is really worth paying. Also many generations were paying for news during the “papers’ era”, and why do reporters and journalists have to provide the same information for free? On the other hand, Jeremy Porter in his article //blog.journalistics.com/2009/journalism_online_will_make_you_pay/ argues that it might be too late to charge for online content. People have already got used to receiving news for free, and it is rather hard to turn the current situation vice versa.
Talking about the Internet invasion, we cannot say that all newspapers all over the world will turn online, because today the Internet is not available all over the world, and in some countries the situation is not going to be changed in coming decades. According to ‘Internet usage statistics” (//www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm) in Middle East, Africa and Oceania/Australia the availability of the Internet is very low, comparing to Asia, Europe and North America. This is the first reason why some people assume that newspapers will stay alive for a long time.
Also in local areas printed issues seem to be more convenient. Let’s imagine that there is an online resource Blagoevgradonline.bg, which covers latest news of this town. If this site has a success, audience will ask to turn this resource to the paper, because it will be more comfortable for the overwhelming majority of town’s population. Another example is our university newspaper DeFacto. It was started in 2003 with the website, but the printed version was neglected only in 2007. This shows that the process can turn not only from paper to website, the reverse is also possible.
Phelps Hawkins, JMC Department professor in AUBG, suppose that humankind will need newspapers anyway, because we are becoming tired of the Internet. For example, when one is going to the restaurant or goes on a plane, places where it is not convenient or even forbidden to turn notebooks on, waiters or stewards are suggesting some papers to read and become familiar with latest news. This kind of service is not going to be changed a lot, that’s why newspapers have to exist at least in small amounts. Also newspapers can become produced from something different from paper and ink, for example, it could be some kind of plastic.
According to Google executive Santiago de la Mora (//www.techcentral.co.za/newspapers-will-survive-the-internet-google/12483/) Internet will not displace newspapers just as “VHS, and later DVD, didn’t kill cinema”. In his opinion, newspapers have to provide us something that will make people want to read them; and it should be something more than just printing the material. De la Mora is sure that Internet companies don’t want to “steal” newspapers’ revenue, because first of all, it is publishers’ material that goes online. “Using Google’s webmaster tools, publishers can prevent Google from indexing their sites entirely, or they can prevent specific Google services, like Google News, from indexing their content”.
Yesterday I was talking to my Mom about my research paper, and asked her opinion on the topic. She was hardly urging me that newspapers would not die, because reading a newspaper is sort of ritual, but at the end of our conversation she added a phrase: “However, newspapers are terribly inconvenient. They are big and smell like a paint”.
Almost nobody now is listening to music on tape recorders, and very small amount of people is watching movies on VHS. The world is changing very fast, humankind invents more and more new technologies, and it is good that we are developing our lives replacing outdated stuff by newest technologies.
I am not a prophet to make such predictions, but I don’t exclude the idea that newspapers will become for people something that reminds them of the past. (As for today, some people are still buying vinyl records). Also, newspapers can stay in small towns in order to cover the local news. What could happen?