The New York Times has been touting its age-old mantra that the newspaper carries “all the news that’s fit to print.” But the shift from print media to digital media for news delivery has left many individuals questioning the longevity of the newspaper industry.
Information — both for entertainment and news-related purposes — can be found within the palm of a hand almost instantly. We owe this to the advent of social and digital media. And while the up-to-the-second news coverage is wonderful, what does it mean for the printed word?
It means the nature of news media, in regards to print, is in flux.
Several aspects seem to plague the newspaper industry with circulation woes and the decline of advertisement sales at the forefront.
In 1940, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, there were 41,132 daily newspapers produced in the United States. Newspaper production peaked in 1987 with 62,826 publications in print (Audit Bureau of Circulations, 2010). After that, print newspaper circulation has steadily declined.
In 2009, the most recent report showed that newspaper production has almost leveled out to its numbers in the 1940s, with only 46, 278 papers still in print, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, 2010.
Additionally, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, newspapers are not as cost effective as they once were. In 1956, news organizations spent $1,344,492 on publication costs annually. In 2009, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported that
$10,066,783 was spent on production expenditures in 2009.
According to Suzanne M. Kirchoff, analyst in industrial organization and business, “the U.S. newspaper industry is in the midst of a historic restructuring, buffeted by a deep recession that has battered crucial advertising revenues, long-term structural challenges as readers turn to free news and entertainment on the Internet, and heavy debt burdens weighing down some major media companies.”
So does this mean newspapers are sinking? Absolutely not. It means the industry is restructuring. It means that the tried and true and traditionally traditional newspaper is changing.
The printed publications are searching for ways to once again bring about community — much like their faster, tech-savvier social media counterparts.
Very few people nowadays walk into work and ask their co-worker if he or she saw the front page of the newspaper. Rather, they show up to work seeking the latest news on popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media is not a passing fad, it seems. Rather, according Mashable.com, “it is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.”
Newspapers are a part of that shift. It’s something those in the industry refer to as “convergence” — the act of several media platforms working together to create an overall experience for the media consumer.
Now, instead of simply connecting with our readers once per week via our printed editions, we are able meet with you on a daily basis through our website, Facebook and text messaging.
On a whole, newspapers have not shied away from conflict, but have, rather, run full steam ahead to retrieve the truth. Print media is not afraid of the change, either. Those in the industry will continue to fight to ensure that newspapers succeed.
Not to mention, the nature — the heartbeat — of news media has not changed. A journalist or reporter’s goal, regardless of the medium, is to report the news. So, you may not be talking about the story on the front of a physical newspaper, but that tweet or Facebook post originated from somewhere — most likely, the news media.
Newspapers will not die out, at least not in the near future. We are still in the game, and we hope you, the readers, are still on our side.