We do not need traditional newspapers
The question on most news enthusiasts’ lips is that, do we really need newspapers? Newspapers are facing only one problem; the internet. The internet is gradually becoming the biggest source of news and information in the world. Due to the availability of the internet via many institutions, many people prefer it as a source of information and news than the newspapers. The culture of having newspapers delivered daily to ones home is slowly dying with many readers of the news turning to online sources for their information needs. Newspapers are more costly than accessing the internet and their costs keep raising. At this rate, the people will turn fully to the internet for their information and news needs. Indeed the newspapers are not necessary when the internet is readily available.
Tony Harcup and Peter Cole in their book ‘Newspaper Journalism’ say that
“Newspapers have many rivals for attention, and some will not survive the competition. Others may be killed by owners only interested in the bottom line. Still others will change or adapt to new conditions. The re will be free newspapers, e-newspapers, newspapers on computer screens and mobile telephone screens and i-pod screens”, (Harcup and Cole, 192).
This shows how the next ten to fifteen years shall be for the newspaper industry. This means that the newspapers shall not be completely phased out but shall have very few people left reading them. Newspaper circulation is experiencing its worst days in America since 2002. The newspaper companies are losing ten percent of their loyal paying customers every year.
The loss in the newspaper industry might be partly because of their own doing. This is because, in resent times and in their trends, the newspaper industry has been too slow to accept and incorporate the internet in their operations. The newspaper industry has depended too much on paper as their only means of delivery of their message. In theory the newspaper report about things that are changing and how the world is changing everyday, however, they have failed to embrace the change that they preach about in their papers everyday. The newspapers today are concentrating too much on reporting entertainment than news. Most of what is being published as news concerns entertainment other than current affairs that lie across the board.
It is evident that for their survival, newspapers need to incorporate the internet in their operations. They need to increase their presence in the electronic media and develop material that shall be online based. The newspapers should launch campaigns like publishing online newspapers. This shall make them get clients that would actually want to pay for their services and this shall reduce their emphasis on print media. Fifty-five percent of Americans who follow current affairs rely on the internet for their information. This number is currently increasing on a very high rate. In a few years time, the number shall have increased quite considerably due to the ease in which the internet is offering people to access it.
There are newspapers that actually have internet platforms for reading the newspaper. This is where most Americans are finding their information from and it comes with a wide variety of applications. One can choose which stories to read. This means that there is convenience in the online newspapers. This feature attracts readers since people who prefer certain columns to others in the newspapers get to choose which they want. People who prefer comparing stories from different sources and previously bought several newspapers, now just read their various papers from the internet at the click of a button for very little or no charge at all. Newspaper media houses need to figure out that a person does not have to have or buy a newspaper in order to read their news.
Blog spots are another issue that is facing the newspaper industry. This is because most people who have access to the internet have developed the mentality that they do not have to buy their news. On the internet, if one needs information, one just has to develop a search with the key words in a search engine like Google or Bing and then millions of results pop up. Blogging appears since; a person with a personal blog spot about an issue is in a better position to offer better information than the newspaper. This general mentality has been acquired by most people. For instance, when the terrorist Osama died, several newspapers wrote about it. However, bloggers from Abbottabad gave the experience from the ground and gave hourly updates of what was going on in the area. Indeed, better information would come from the bloggers other than the newspapers.
“The newest numbers on newspaper circulation, released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, paint a dismal picture for an industry already feeling the pressures of an advertising slump coupled with the worst business downturn since the Great Depression” (Ahrens, 2009). Frank Ahrens wrote this in his article, “The accelerating decline of newspapers;
Small dailies are rare bright spot in latest figures”. The article describes how the average number of Americans who buy newspapers is reducing in a significantly steady rate. It also states that the daily circulation of newspapers in the US has been in the decline since the year 1987. the main reason for this decline being named as a the stiff competition the papers are facing from other sources of reading information and advertising like the internet. The success of the other information sources however has been named to be only in the readership and their success does not reflect in profits.
The reason behind this is failure in profits is because of the low cost of advertising in the internet compared with the print media. Statistics shown in the article state that newspaper internet sites like the ‘New York Times Online’ have gained considerable popularity in the recent years. About 21.5 million subscribers access the site every month and the number increases with about seven percent per year. At the same time, the Times Company for print newspapers reported a drop in their revenue from advertisement by 27 percent. Other print newspaper companies are losing money in sales and advertisement revenues every year. Ahrens figures that several factors have contributed to the decrease in the newspaper sales. For instance, some newspaper companies have pulled back their distribution to far areas in a bid to reduce their production and fuel costs.
The publishing companies have also hiked the prices for their newspapers and this discourages the people to buy especially when a cheaper and more flexible option exists. He adds that only about 13 percent of the total American population still buys newspapers today. Ahrens figures that the small newspapers that concentrate on news from their localities are doing far much better financially than the large-scale newspapers. This, he attributes to the capturing of the local advertisement scene in the localities and thus their revenues in advertisement are ever increasing.
Bob Franklin in his book “Pulling newspapers apart: analysing print journalism”, states that,
“While the decline in newspapers’ circulation is undoubtedly significant the suggestion here is that newspapers are not about to ‘vanish’ or disappear. Newspapers are changing and adapting their contents, style and design in response to the challenges they confront in the increasingly competitive and fragmented market for readers and advertisers posed by other newspapers, but additionally by the new media platforms of the internet and mobile telephony, which deliver news, blogs, text alerts, news updates, podcasts and user-generated content (UGC) to ‘readers’ at a greater pace, in more accessible formats and when readers demand them.” (Franklin, 2)
This clearly suggests that for the newspaper industry to stop clutching on straws, pull back into the competitive market, as worthy opponents, they need to style up, and incorporate the new ways of doing things.
Franklin here offers a possible solution to newspaper houses on how to change their tactics to bring their products back on the competitive scene. What the companies need to do is to listen more to the user or the consumer. They also need to create more flexible products that fit the preferences of the consumer and develop strategies that shall make them aware of new methods that consumers prefer to get their news. The newspaper media would be a popular source of news for the newsreaders if only they tried to fit to the customers’ needs and preferences.
“Nearly half of American newspaper executives felt their papers could be harmed by internet based competition. Some news executives said that readers would continue to adopt internet newspapers for news consumption with enthusiasm,” (Li, 123).
Li says this in his book “Internet newspapers: the making of a mainstream medium”. This clearly shows that the main competitor for the print newspaper industry is the internet media sources. The costs of a printing press are highlighted in David Lieberman’s article, “Extra! Extra! Are newspapers dying? Closings scare some; others say no way will newsrooms die and it mentions”. The article describes how expensive setting up a printing press is and relates it to the high costs incurred by print media houses. This is one of the reasons why print media has a dark future. Any company’s production costs have to be incorporated in the price of the product. This being the case, the prices of the newspapers might never change or decrease. At the same time, the internet offers prices that are next to zero for their information. Comparing these two scenarios, one clearly finds out that the print media stands no chance of making any more profits in the near future.
Ahrens, Frank. “The accelerating decline of newspapers: Small dailies are rare bright spot in latest figures.” The Washington Post Tuesday, October 2009: Web.
Franklin, Bob. Pulling newspapers apart: analysing print journalism. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008. Print.
Harcup, Tony and Cole, Peter. Newspaper Journalism. New York, NY: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2009. Print.
Li, Xigen. Internet newspapers: the making of a mainstream medium. New York, NY: Routledge, 2006. Print.
Lieberman, David. “Extra! Extra! Are newspapers dying? Closings scare some; others say no way will newsrooms die.” USA Today Thursday, April 2011: Web.