Everything is going online, yes we know, we’ve all read the articles and heard lots of people tell us. Paper is dead. People want things immediately and they want them in easy access. Yay for the internet and the kindle and the ability to access everything we will ever need from one small portable device. The gravestones have already been carved for books and newspapers. But it is way too early, in my opinion, to be deciding on what hymns to sing at the funeral.
Books and newspapers are in different classes obviously. A newspaper is a little like a coffee and a book is a lot like the mug it’s held in. A book is more of an investment than a newspaper which means their survival will be different. People are predicting that newspapers will be dead in five years and that people will access all their media online. This is selling newspapers short, trying to put my bias aside, people enjoy having something tangible to read especially when they are around computer screens all day.
Accessing newspapers online and on phones and tablets is easier and faster but sometimes people like to enjoy their news. They like the chance to properly see things designed on the page. The amount of people buying newspapers may be falling but that is because competition is tighter and that newspapers, right now, are not offering enough material to successfully compete with their online counterparts.
There is a lot more freedom with online media and for the people in the industry this is very exciting. A news article that can contain a video as well as links to other news articles within the publication, and other publications means that news can expand in a way that a paper-based publication can’t. However, this does not mean that a newspaper is dead. It just means it may not be the focus anymore but an extension.
Removing the newspaper entirely, especially if it is popular or the only one in a particular region, is missing a trick. It’s a little like removing the root of a tree just because it’s fully grown and producing fruit.
The newspaper will never be as popular as it was. As society evolves and taps its back for doing so, it believes that it doesn’t need things that were once important to an older time. This, however, doesn’t make the newspaper obsolete. There are still enough people buying and reading newspapers that advertisers will continue to be interested in newspapers. Although there is money, a lot of money, in online publications there are too many adverts and distractions online. A paper is far more targeted, people spend much more time reading a page than a website. It is a different frame of mind which means a more focused audience and thus a consistent ability for advertisers to target an audience and for newspapers to fund the publication for their readers.
Instead of removing newspapers completely, it should become an extension of the online resource, even if it is not the main focus. There is a lot of room for creativity in both the online and paper-based forms, it would make more sense to keep both types of media and target a larger audience. There are still people who do not have easy access to the internet. There are still people who prefer a newspaper to reading something on a mobile phone (even if it has been adapted to the screen).
Newspapers still have life in them and still have potential. If newspapers do die earlier than they should (especially within the pessimistic five year predictions that I have heard) then it is because those in the media, who have the power have chosen to embrace online with both hands and ignore the paper copy of a newspaper. It will be at the fault of editors and advertisers who assume that just because something has an upgrade, the original is no longer valid.