Over the last decade, society has seen a rapid rise in the popularity of social media platforms as well as the development of constant access to the internet anytime anyplace, which have apparently propelled news into the ‘digital age’. Alongside the online venture, news producers have seen a marked decline in the popularity of their print newspapers with the two being inextricably linked- but are they really so connected?
Yes, there is solid evidence to support the fact that the number of print newspapers being sold yearly across the UK has been continually on the decline for the last five years.
But to automatically presume that this is because of the rising popularity in social media and online journalism would be wrong, as this would be to presume that everyone who is not buying the print edition is reading the edition online, or to presume that there are no other reasons for the decline in buying print editions. There are many reasons as to why print journalism is losing ground, but also many reasons to show that it is not going down without a fight.
So let’s take a look at both sides of the argument-
Point one: newspapers are dying.
Sale numbers are dropping, circulation is diminishing, advertising revenue is drying up and the industry as a whole has seen a large number of cuts and layoffs in recent times. The rise of new media and the digital age should essentially bring the death of newspapers because the internet can offer so much more than words on a page.
This is all the truth, but many seem to forget that newspapers have been around now for hundreds of years, since the 17th century in fact. This is not the first time that the death of print news has been predicted, when radio was introduced, newspapers were supposed to go out of fashion, when TV was introduced, newspapers were supposed to go out of fashion, a trend has emerged where that differing media platforms do no take over each other but work alongside each other to create a wider experience of distribution.
Point two: newspapers aren’t dying.
In an article written by The Guardian back in 2014, journalist Tien Tzuo outlined several ways to prove that newspapers are definitely not dying. He believes that newspapers do not have a consistent political slant, but instead, focus on offering concise, informed and entertaining pieces that can’t be found in other media. By recognising that they can’t compete with the reach of online publications, newspapers opt for quality not quantity. Print newspapers also guarantee the full attention of a reader, someone who has chosen to spend money in order to gain information from the source, unlike online news, where Twitter and Facebook users can scroll past, ignore or even miss updates that are posted. Working in a leaner fashion and cutting out unnecessary features has allowed print publications to streamline their costings and even continue to make profits.
He also offers other suggestions such as newspapers offering additional services only where necessary, instead of continuously including videos, pictures and links as novelties instead of extensions. Also, the fact that many newspapers have now linked with other companies to offer joint business, such as The Financial Times offering subscriptions to TED events and News UK teaming up with Spotify to boost readership.
So from both sides of the fence there are many arguments to be considered, but it can be said that print news and online news are not as closely linked as first thought. There are parallels between the two and mostly, online and print work in a symbiotic fashion, but to say that the rise of one is causing the fall of the other would be wrong. Although newspapers will inevitably die out at some point, it does not look like it will be any time soon.